Opinion: The kindness of strangers

POSTED: 01/15/14 11:44 AM

Fancy coming out of a supermarket, minding your own business, carrying one of those ugly black plastic bags holding a couple of Monsters and a chocolate bar. The next thing you know, your flat on your back and you are heavily bleeding from somewhere on your precious head.

That is exactly what happened to me yesterday afternoon when I left the Li Bin supermarket on Illidge Road. And no, this is not a story to complain about that darn canopy that is hanging far too low and that caught me smack in the middle of my head. After all, when you are tall you may expect to bang your head here and there and I have plenty of experience in that field.

But this little canopy knocked me down with a vengeance. Had it happened a day earlier I would have been on Beverly Hyman’s talk show with a bandage around my head and a nice opportunity to say to Paul de Windt, the publisher of the Daily Herald, that competition in the newspaper business is getting really tough these days. That did not happen though, but something else did.

With my head bleeding like a pig I got up and stumbled back into the supermarket. Blood dripped on the floor – a nice crimson color, I dare say. Later I found that the stuff had dripped on my shirt as well.

The ladies at the Li Bin supermarket reacted like first class nurses. They immediately offered me napkins to stem the bleeding. When that did not help, they popped open a bottle of disinfectant, grabbed some cotton pads and went to work. I felt that I was – for the first time in my life – completely dependent on the kindness of strangers.

One of the ladies asked told me to sit down. At first I did not feel the need to do so, until it hit me (figuratively speaking, this time) that the top of my 6 foot 3 frame might be rather difficult to reach for my Florence Nightingale who seemed to be about half my size. So I sat on a few boxes of beer, wondering for no particular reason whether it was Heineken or Presidente, and let the lady do her work. I ended up with a cotton pad on my head and a bandage wrapped around it. I thought it must have made me look like one of those fake-victims in a Red Cross exercise drill.

I thanked the ladies at the store profusely, and back at my office I started thinking that I had not thanked them enough. Then I started thinking about customer service – a sore point in (too) many establishments in St. Maarten.

What a service I got for the price of a couple of Monsters! And no questions asked. I honestly thought that offering money for their kindness would come across as an insult, so I refrained from it. It felt too much like getting even – a handful of dollars for services rendered.

So instead, I will never forget the way the ladies at the Li Bin supermarket treated me. This will be for the foreseeable future the supplier that will satisfy my lust for Monsters and chocolate bars. However, next time I am getting out of the store, I will make sure that I will not run into that darn canopy again.

Hilbert Haar

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