On My Run This Morning, I Was Flagged Down By An Elderly Chinese Woman Waving Her Phone At Me

By Ezra • January 12, 2023

On my run this morning, I was flagged down by an elderly Chinese woman waving her phone at me speaking to me in Mandarin. She spoke no English at all. She was clearly lost and was trying to walk home (which would’ve been a 40 minute walk at least)… although I was mid circuit on my morning exercise- I knew that her reaching out had to take precedence.

She showed me screen shots of maps on her phone, though I was unable to direct her. I worked nearby and knew someone who might be able to translate, so I quickly downloaded a translation app, and asked her to come with me to find someone who would be able to speak with her.

Unfortunately, my friend wasn’t working- so we used the app. I didn’t have the keyboard for her to type to me, but she used the microphone feature to translate to English, and I would write a reply. I was able to ascertain the address she needed to get to. She was at least 45 minutes walking distance from home. She didn’t want to use transport, but agreed to let me walk her to a bus stop at an easy juncture where she could call her daughter to collect her.

Whilst this all ended up taking 45 minutes, it was such a lovely encounter - despite having to communicate via an app and having to put trust and faith in the other via technology to talk to one another (and have a laugh together too). I am so deeply grateful to have been able to assist this woman. As a single parent to two teens and knowing my suburb well, it’s easy to take these things for granted.

This beautiful lost, elderly woman, was immensely grateful for my time- and kept apologising for taking my time. I had to keep reminding her that was no trouble at all for me, and I only wanted to ensure she got home safely.

It seemed a shame that accepting random acts of kindness from others (even having to communicate via an app), is not necessarily the norm- and does take people aback when someone is genuinely helpful, kind, patient and will do all they can to understand you when you need it most. The time spent with her was really special. We chatted via the app, and I was humbled by her ability to ask for help from a total stranger and put her faith in me. We walked, talked and laughed (quite a bit! She had a pretty awesome sense of humour!)… and I sat with her for a while as she spoke to her daughter about her location.

We said out farewells, and her final message to me filled me with hope for human kind. The one thing I tell my teens- of all the things you could ever aspire to be; be kind. And give you time and energy to those who need you. You never know how much this might mean to someone… where there is a will, there’s a way, and it’s one of the few times I’ve been so grateful for technology so I was able to communicate with someone despite language barriers.

My posting this is merely to inspire more of us to continue to be kind and be aware of people struggling who sometimes may not even feel able to ask for help- if you sense someone needs assistance- extend your service. It’s the greatest gift to give another. She made it home safely. Highlight of the day!

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