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The Kindness of Strangers Probably Saved a Boy’s Life


Something stirring happened one evening last month at a family-style restaurant called Mrs. Potato in Orlando, Fla. By night’s end five strangers would each instinctively make crucial decisions. The result, according to police, was that the life of an 11-year-old boy likely was saved.

There is a lesson in what took place, and it starts with what a woman named Flaviane Carvalho saw.

She was serving meals to a table where a family of four was sitting. Three of the people—an adult male, an adult female, and a four-year-old girl—were sitting on one side, seemingly enjoying themselves. The boy was on the other side, not being spoken to and not speaking. He was the only one for whom the adults had not ordered food. Ms. Carvalho thought this was odd.

Then she noticed bruising near the boy’s eye, and a cut above his nose. And more bruising on his lower arm. She could have done nothing.

But she couldn’t just let it go. On a piece of paper, in big letters, she wrote: “ARE YOU OK?” She stood behind the table and held the paper up so only the boy, alone on the other side, could see it. He made a motion with his head. She sensed he was afraid. So she wrote another message: “DO YOU NEED HELP?”



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