The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Relying on the kindness of strangers — in Nashua

In Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Blanche DuBois delivers the knockout line that people around the world often quote: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”


And although that ironic note means different things to most of us here in “real life,” it nevertheless rings true.

There are good people in this world, some of whom we meet only briefly, while others — strangers — help us out in times of crisis and who later become our friends.

I like to think that Nashua is a friendly city where folks feel welcome, an area that is simple to navigate with a cozy, walkable downtown that offers visitors and residents delightful options.

But surveys of the nation’s friendliest cities almost always list places from the South.

Conde Nast Traveler voters often list Charleston, S.C., as the friendliest spot, describing the “quaint” city as bursting with “southern hospitality.”

And then come the zingers in these articles, with people claiming the Northeast as downright cold and unfriendly, where no one says “hello” on the street

That’s baloney.

If I remember my middle school geography, the Northeast includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — all places I’ve visited.

Even the Big Apple had decent people when I lived there years ago. I remember one time, while dining out with friends, that I left my wallet behind in one of the familiar yellow cabs operating in NYC. When I got to my apartment and discovered my wallet was still in the back seat, I began crying and knew that was the end of my personal information, treasured photos and whatever small amount of money was tucked inside.

The next morning, I received a phone call from a stranger who had hailed my cab for the next ride that evening. She had found my wallet with my phone number and address inside and would leave it safely at the front desk of her residence.

Long story short, I got the wallet back with everything intact. I was amazed at the kindness of this stranger.

Here in the Gate City, I am sure there are stories like mine of good people — strangers — who were there to do the right thing when the situation called for it.

For one young person who is now in college and excelling, their move to Nashua has been a welcoming journey because the strangers this person met changed their life. is a website that provides comprehensive data on U.S. schools and neighborhoods where folks can leave their anonymous ratings on a particular city and its school system.

This student gave our Gate City the highest five-star rating eight months ago: “I came to Nashua without speaking any English. I learned so fast that within a year I was able to work at a local restaurant. I graduated 2013, and now I am in College. Nashua gave me the opportunity to begin with a great start when coming to the United States.”

Another one who moved here from Orange County, Calif, wrote this: “People are also really nice and approachable. That is something that I have never experienced before and actually quite enjoy.”

When I visit Market Basket in the south end, I often see a distinguished older gentleman bagging groceries. He is a man of few words, but sweet and efficient. He always greets me like a long-lost friend and now gives me a quick hug, so I enjoy waiting in his aisle at the checkout. And he hugs other shoppers too.

I would call that another act of kindness from someone I barely know.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at