So today’s daily prompt has triggered an early memory within me that happened when I was back in primary school. It was an act of kindness from a stranger that taught me a lesson in life.
Before I begin this story, I want to apologise to you reader that I have not added the names of the stranger or the actual place they came from as the memory does not hold that information, only the lesson that I learnt.
One day our class had a special visit from two men who came from an island in the Persian Gulf were touring the local schools in Scotland talking about their home. Using the classroom map, they proceeded to give a little talk followed by the teacher encouraging us to ask one question each.
Now the men took each question and answered them; about culture, dress, food. I had thought about my question, it was going to be about whether the people in the country went to the beach like ourselves making sandcastles, hunting for shells and having ice-cream.
As I listened to everyone else ask their questions, I was beginning to think that my question was not going to be that good and that everyone else were asking better questions than me that I couldn’t come up. I tried to get out of it by not keeping my hand up to say I had a question.
However, The teacher remembered that I had a question and was the last to go.
Nervous that it would not be as good as the others and wanting to get it out of the way, I blurted out “Do you have beaches?”
This was met with the usual ‘duhs!’ and chortles on ‘what a stupid question’ from my class mates which made me want to retreat my head into my shirt like a tortoise to hid my embarrassment.
Then one of the men spoke softly asking hushing the taunts “How do you mean?” Then as giving it much thought “As do we make sand castles and have ice creams?”
Upon which I quickly replied “Yes, do you have the same freedom to enjoy the beach that we have.”
He then answered “Sadly, no.” He went on to answer that the beaches were privately owned, people had to get permits to go on them along with special permission from the government. He went on explain the differences on liberties that people in his country had over ours in his calm voice, none of this was asked for or given in the previous questions.
Everyone in the classroom listened and it was no more ‘stupid question’ but ‘good question’ being given.
I have always seen this man as someone who could recognise both that there was more than just a simple question and that the person asking it was being hurt by the jeers of others. By giving a better answer than needed for turning my question into a better sounding one, I have not forgotten in my life.
As I said, I do not recall the man’s name or where he came from but I do remember his kid action and I try to do as what he does when someone asks what may sound like a ‘stupid’ question to others. Not to ridicule but to ask more questions to understand what lies beneath and if they look embarrassed asking it then to give an answer that is more than required to further their understanding and knowledge.