If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll know that this weekend I was working as a journalist for MCM Buzz Press at London Comic Con. It was an absolute blast and I’ve never worked twelve hour shifts without realising it before!
But before any of that, I have another story.
On Saturday night, after the busiest day London Comic Con has ever had to date, we decided to eat dinner at the Italian restaurant next to our hotel. Absolutely beautiful food, portions larger than we could eat, and staff as friendly as sunshine.
The next morning, I realised my Oyster card was missing. If you’re not familiar with the London tube system, an Oyster card is like a ticket that you keep permanently. You top it up with money, swipe it at terminals, and travel around the underground at a much cheaper price. Mine was gone, and the tube is not cheap without one.
The last place my friend had seen me with it was at the restaurant, where I’d placed it on the table to get to something else in my pocket. Unfortunately, the card’s black wallet blended in with the tablecloth.
After work, we returned to the restaurant and asked the owner if anyone had handed in my card. Nope. Nothing. The owner suspected that a had guest taken it, or even one of his staff. I wasn’t too upset, I couldn’t blame him for my own negligence. I was just disheartened at the looming fee I’d have to pay to get to Poplar that evening and then Waterloo station the next day. I didn’t say anything though, I just told him not to worry and thanks for looking.
Without hesitation, however, as the owner poked around in the till draw, he said, “You can borrow mine.”
“Pardon?” I replied.
“How much was on your Oyster card?”
“Not much, only £7, so it’s not a huge loss, but it was enough to travel.” (Without an Oyster card the overall journey would come to £18, with an Oyster it would cost me £4 – keep in mind that paying for a hotel, tickets to London, and buying food had already cost me well over £200.)
“Then here,” the owner said, closing the till and instead reaching into his coat pocket hanging on the peg, “you can borrow my Oyster card. It has about £7 I think. You can post it back to me.”
I was so stunned I didn’t quite know what to say. “What? No! It’s okay.”
“You need to get home, don’t you?”
“Then here. Just post it back to me.”
I’ve never encountered such spontaneous and trusting kindness from a total stranger before. I accepted his offer, thanking him profusely, and made it through London without having to pay a stupid amount. Now home, I’ve written him a little letter and sealed his card in an envelope, ready to post back to him tomorrow.
I’m just so touched by someone placing such trust in a stranger in need. These little kindnesses do happen, and they restore your faith in humanity.
If you’re ever in Canning Town, you should visit Pepenero restaurant; not just because the food is delicious and massive in size, but because the people who work there are friendly, have a good sense of humour, and its manager is one of a kind.