How the London Underground Taught Me a Valuable Lesson

I’m still a bit ashamed. On our recent trip to London we made extensive use of the Underground. “Mind the Gap!” What a wonderful and efficient mode of transportation it is. It’s clean, simple to use, and gets you all over the city inexpensively and quickly. And if you’re paying attention, it can also teach you a valuable lesson.

One of our days in London we were rushing from one place to another. (When you take the tube it seems like everyone’s in a rush, so you try to keep up with the fast pace.) As we were descending the steps to get to the platform we were slowed by an old woman. She had a push cart and was taking the steps one by one. My initial thought was: “Can’t this woman hurry up. She’s kind of in the way.”

So we descended the steps and were about to go around her. Just then, two young women ahead of us stopped and said to the woman: “Can we help you?” And they proceeded to lift her cart and help her to the bottom of the steps.

Boy was I put in my place. Here I was on my holiday. I really had no place important to go. We were simply making our way to our next tourist stop. Instead of being annoyed, my first thought should have been to help the woman with her load. But apparently I had to learn a lesson. So two young women showed me what my reaction should have been and provided a perfect example.

The lesson was this: Always be ready to serve. Whether you’re on vacation, in your daily routine, or out and about, keep your eyes open. Look for opportunities to serve. Instead of being self-centered keep your antennae up for ways to help others.

It’s a simple lesson. But it’s a profound one. We live our lives too often keeping to ourselves and thinking only of our own agenda. What can we do to help others that we encounter? In the end it’s really a gift to be able to serve. Those two young women gave me some food for thought. It would have felt really good to help that poor woman with her load down the Underground steps.

Next time I hope to be the one who will jump into service.

Will you?




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