This week a brilliant thing happened to me. It started off as a bad thing – relatively – and then the kindness of strangers turned it into a good thing. Which is what made it brilliant.
Here’s what happened. On Monday I left work and went into Manchester to take some pictures of the newly opened Mackie Mayor and pick up a package I’d had delivered to a shop. It contained gifts for three friends, worth about £60.
I could have had it delivered at home but had decided to collect it from the Store in King Street. The detour into central Manchester would only add about an hour and a half to my day, and promised to be fun.
But it was also a grey autumn afternoon, I was tired after an early shift at work and I felt under the weather. After my quick visit Mackie Mayor, I nearly didn’t get off the tram at St Peter’s Square, thinking I could come back another day for my parcel.
But I jumped off anyway and got to the shop just before it closed. Phew! Fifteen minutes later I was back on the Altrincham tram heading home. I got a space in the leaning area and placed the gift bag on the ledge behind me. And that’s exactly where it remained when gathered my other bags off the floor and got off the tram.
I realised my mistake about 10 mins into my walk home. It was too late to turn back – my tram would have gone – and I finished the rest of my journey in a state of dismay.
I got home feeling annoyed with myself and down about everything. I had a cup of tea in bed and reached the conclusion that I had problems I needed to sort out – big problems, like my work and how I spent my time. I suppose this gave me a way to do something about the situation.
But it sounded like way too much work and my mind alighted on something simpler to make me feel better: I got decided to put my faith in the people of Manchester. Commuters on the tram were unfailingly decent and polite in my experience. And Metrolink was always organised and people-focused when I’d dealt with them.
It wasn’t impossible that my package could be returned. If ever conditions were right for it to happen, this was it. Metrolink’s customer services was open until about 10pm, I remembered.
I got out of bed and rang them up and got straight through. They logged details of my package and phone number and told me they’d ring me if it was came in. “You’d be surprised what gets turned in,” the woman said cheerfully.
I put out a tweet asking for help with my lost and found, then went downstairs for dinner and tried to forget about it until the next day.
The next morning I actually had sort of forgotten about it. I had an early start at work and a busy first few hours. But at 10.30am I saw I had a missed call. It was a 0161 number and no one rings me from Manchester land lines. Could it be?
I rang the number and sure enough it was Metrolink. They had my package. Yippee! I could pick it up until 7pm, and the depot was on my way home.
By 4.30pm that day I was reunited with those gifts I’d so foolishly parted company with the day before. They’d become much more important to me once I lost then. And they were now much more meaningful having regained them.
The decency of strangers had rescued my situation. I see this decency in the community and city I live in all the time, and I’d been right to bet on it the night before.
I didn’t need to change my life, thankfully; that sounded like a lot of work. But leaning in to the positives in my life is something I’ll remember for the future. It won’t always work out, but if it works sometimes that’s enough. And I’ll also remember never to put anything on the ledge behind me on the tram, that’s for sure.