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On Thursday each week my column appears in the Euro Weekly News. My opinion is just that, an opinion. Feel free to put your oar in but in a constructive way if you please. Thanks so much. - Michael

05 October 2013 @ 13:07


Answering my door to a young Polish woman she told me she desperately needed internet access. Having no idea where the nearest wifi location was she asked if she could use mine. I was happy to oblige.

I was reminded of the many times I have asked locals for assistance when in their countries. Their generosity of spirit has taught me some great life lessons.

Arriving late at Italy’s Bergamo airport and having picked up the hire car it dawned on me that budget airlines tell lies. The ‘nearby hotel’ I had booked was a perplexing few spaghetti junctions distant. At night, faced by a bewildering series of meaningless signs and caught up in a maelstrom of fast moving traffic my son and I were soon out of our depth.

“I will ask this couple,” I said. I had spotted Romeo and Juliette whispering sweet nothings to each other by their Vespa scooter. My son could not get over it when, without a qualm the youngster kissed his girlfriend Ciao and invited us to follow him. It was a difficult route but we reached our hotel. The teenager refused the well deserved €10 I offered.

As a youngster, I had on several occasions used my old car to tour Europe. Looking for an address in Munich I asked a young soldier for directions. Realising he was not making much sense he jumped in our car and guided us there. Munich is about the same size as Greater Manchester, the journey took nearly half an hour. He was happy to oblige without payment.

When in Latvia both Russians and Latvians couldn’t do enough to help when I needed advice. It sometimes seems to me that by helping others we too become happier.

I could never fault the native Africans. No matter how much my request inconvenienced those I asked assistance of their reward seemed to be their satisfaction at having helped a stranger in trouble.

In Japan, a cinema manager realised that we young sailors could not afford the entrance fee. He invited us to take our seats free of charge. We couldn’t understand the movie but we understood the lesson.

I found the Germans the friendliest of all. In a remote part of Bavaria, we were horrified when steam issued from under the car’s bonnet. Coming to our assistance a youngster got us to a garage where, free of charge the thermostat was dumped, the gasket replaced and all was well.

Again, I offered payment, which was refused. He did give me a little advice: “Pay me by offering assistance to any foreigner who needs you in your country.” It was a lesson I have never forgotten. I have paid for that car repair and other acts of kindness many times by assisting others in need of a kindly gesture.


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eggcup said:
05 October 2013 @ 21:08

Yes, Mike. I believe in this philosophy too. We went to a talk once by a networking expert. He said how tedious and annoying it is when people approach you at networking events in order to get something out of you (like sell insurance or sell you their products, for example) - as he said, you can see through them immediately and feel irritated that they are being friendly only to get something out of you. He said the best way to network and grow your business is to be generous with your time and advice and help people with no thought of reward. This then has a knock-on effect with your reputation growing and in fact helps your business because others have heard you are a good person and they trust you. I find this really works.

mike_walsh said:
06 October 2013 @ 07:36

Thanks, my friend. I quite like business networking but for other reasons than the ones intended. You are quite write, everyone there is after a captive audience. Most, perhaps me too, are promoting things the others are not the slightest bit interested in.
I like it when I tell someone flogging water filters that I take my water from the tap. Their expressions are priceless. Shock, it seems I am about to contract the bubonic plague. Well, not so far.

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