Act of Random Kindness!

by James Murtaugh, Aug 16, 2004 | Destinations: Vietnam / Hue


My wife and I are staying at the Saigon Morin Hotel. My favorite hotel in Vietnam. It is over 100 years old but it is first class.

On a very hot day, we cross over the Perfume River Bridge. I notice a park on the other side and plastic tables and chairs set up in the shade.

After showing my wife the sights of the "Forbidden City",I can see my wife is very hot and needs a drink. I remember the park by the river and we walk over in that direction.

The park is empty during the hot afternoon. Only madmen and American tourists walk around in the heat.

We sit on the plastic chairs and a man, about 20 years old, comes over to wait on us. We order a coke. He returns with the soda and tea and asks to join us. His english is very good. We learn that he is from a village in the countryside far from Hue. He had come to the city to seek a better life. He waits tables and sleeps in the little building where the food and drinks are kept. While his boss sleeps, he charges us vietnamese prices for our drinks. We enjoy each other's company very much. As we leave, he gives me a 100 Dong Note for luck. I enjoyed trying to pay cyclo drivers with this note (one dollar equals 16,000 Dong).

On our last day in Hue, my wife and I return to the park for a soda and to say goodbye to our friend. This time the park is full of people but we find a place to sit. Our friend came over and we ordered our drinks. I watched as he went inside his building with a woman. Something was wrong! A lot of time went by and he did not return.

At last, he came back with the woman and a lot of things on the tray. The woman is his mother. She can only make the trip twice a year to see her son. On the tray is our soda, tea and sticky rice with beans and other treats that the waiter's mother had made for her beloved son and he is sharing it with us.

I look around for his mother and I find that she is waiting on the people siting at the tables around us. Doing her son's job so that he can spend time with us. I was very moved by their acts of kindness to strangers. I'm reminded why I love the vietnamese people so much. We will never forget this day and these fine people.

Jim Murtaugh