Recently, we visited Osaka, Japan. We toured the Osaka Castle one of Japan’s most famous landmarks and learned how it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century.
As we departed the Osaka Castle grounds, we headed to a subway station to travel to another Osaka neighborhood. Armed with a subway map, we determined which subway station to enter and how to navigate to our destination, acknowledging a need to transfer at least once during that journey.
Just as we started to step onto the subway car, a man asked if he could be helpful. We told him where we going and thought we would transfer at the next stop. He agreed with our plan and we all entered the subway car. Once we began our journey we re-checked our subway map and decided to wait until the second stop to transfer.
When we stopped at the first subway stop the man watched and was surprised we did not get off and quickly moved over to us and in good English said we should get off at that station; we did and he followed us. We told him we changed our mind and were going to proceed to the second stop rather than the first. He consulted his small subway map and said he would accompany us to the next stop and make sure we transferred to the correct subway line.
The three of us waited for the next subway, traveled to the next station, got off the subway together, navigated through the subway station, went down several platforms and arrived at the appropriate place to catch the subway to arrive at our destination. During our 20 minutes or so together, we shared our experiences, responded to questions, got to know each other, laughed together as we explained why we made the sudden change in our plans and thanked him for his time and assistance.
Once he made sure we were comfortable and ready to board the next train, he bowed and departed to get back on his schedule. He appeared to be a business man and given it was mid-afternoon we are sure he took time away from his work to support our travel and ensure we were safe and on the right subway lines to reach our destination.
His attention to our needs was much appreciated and while we try to do our homework, most often travels on public transit in foreign locations; we welcome a friendly assist from local residents who are willing to help us.
We are very fortunate to encounter many individuals and groups during our travels that we learn from, share with and enjoy getting to know. This particular day in Osaka was memorable as someone initially unknown to us (and us to him) took time away from his schedule to accompany us ensuring we arrived at our destination.
It is truly a gift when someone decides to invest their time in assisting others, an attribute we all can gain and enhance as we go through life. The gift of time to strangers is not only helpful but connects us as human beings, rebuilds trust in others and demonstrates that we all can contribute to other’s needs. Time is something we each possess; it is what we choose to do with it that makes a difference.