Being the upstanding citizens that we are, we’re always quick to offer our seats on public transporation to the disabled and elderly. We rarely expect anything more than a quick thanks from our beneficiary. But according to Xinmin Newspaper (新民日报）, one retired teacher has stepped his thanking up a notch and made a habit of giving a letter of gratitude to every person who’s ever gotten up for him.
Xu Niankui, a 76-year-old Putou District resident, began writing letters to these “kind hearted strangers” in May 2007. He had just gotten on to the Line 858 bus when a female middle-school student immediately offered up her seat for him. Xu began chatting with her, and though he couldn’t get her name or age, found out she was from Taopu Middle School.
The next day, Xu sent a letter to Taopu Middle School thanking the anonymous girl. The school was able to identify which girl it was, and ended up recognizing her for her charitable act.
This was a revelation for Xu, who decided that if people realized how much a simple motion like giving up their seat meant to other people, they would do similar good deeds more.
Xu began bringing pre-written letters with him onto the bus, to hand out to those kind enough to be aware of others. Whenever someone offered their seat to him, he would give them his letter of thanks.
In the two years since, Xu has handed out 25 letters. He says every person who has received one of them has thought it incredibly novel.
Xinmin listed some of his blog excerpts, which detail when he has handed out letters and why:
2007, October 29
Dear little folding stool
A young women told us: “Today, I just bought a little folding stool, and now I’m giving it to an Ayi to rest on.” She understands that we often cannot find a seat on the bus, especially during rush hours. And so she has unexpectedly given us her stool, which she bought, to sit on. It’s not easy. I immediately gave her a letter of thanks from my bag.
2008, December 24
This is the first time a university student has let up his seat
A young man that was occupying a seat wanted to give it to me. He was 180cm, very good looking, cultured and gentle. Seeing him offering it so sincerely, I said “Thank you!” It turns out he is a 3rd year student at Tongji University, studying Japanese. I gave him a letter of thanks, and he smiled and put it into his bag.