Kinder Than London

Having just spent a weekend in Brussels, I was overwhelmed by the numerous genuine acts of kindness in the city. I rarely experience kindness in London from strangers and in the few times that I have, it has been from those visiting the city. However, in Brussels, people were really helpful.

Is the world really a kinder place across the Channel?

The French aren’t known for their pleasantries to visitors, but the melting pot of passers through in Brussels has created quite a dynamic and diverse community. People happily help you with your children as mine were helped up escalators, across roads and onto the metro. I even had a lady return back to me to ask if I needed help with my bags. I was really touched by her thoughtfulness. I recall being told by a tube worker in London that he couldn’t help me up the stairs with my buggy because of health and safety. So, yes I did find the general public much kinder.

However, service in restaurants, bars and hotels was really poor. You often felt scared of asking for anything extra for fear of that seething glare of making them do any work. I was told how hiring staff is so expensive for these establishments that they are often understaffed and cannot cope with the demands of a full restaurant. The bureaucracy of Brussels prominent right at the point of service.

The saddest for me was when a hotel receptionist refused to let my 2 year old go to the loo. Poor thing was about to wet herself and thankfully a restaurant opposite was much more sympathetic. Even gave my older daughter a slice of cake whilst we waited. Of course, we then bought coffee and more cake, but it was still kind.

I can’t make up my mind if people are kinder in Brussels then they are in London, or whether my experiences match my needs and also my own attitude. I am much more open to communication and contact with people in a foreign country and therefore happy to be helped. I wonder, if London life was slightly slowed down and people looked and smiled at each other rather than frowning, more acts of kindness would happen on our doorstep.







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