Last night I saw a unique random act of kindness. Something you don’t see to often in the big city, or maybe it’s just that you don’t notice them as much. It isn’t that people aren’t kind, but rather that they are often too busy with their own lives to see what’s going on around them. Also, I find that the big city lifestyle everyone is always internalizing things almost to the point that you cannot talk to or even look at strangers.
The Act of Giving
As I entered the metro the other night, I made my way to the pole handle by the door. Tired and glancing around at my fellow commuters I notice a homeless woman just a few feet away from me seating in the last seat of the cart. In typical fashion, she is carrying several large bags and bundled with several layers of worn out sweaters, presumably all that she owns. There’s a good chance that tonight, the metro will be her home; the hard often used seat, her bed. Alas, it’s better than the unforgiving winter cold that has settled in over the city. Sleeping outside would be near unbearable.
My mind tells me to move on, but just as I start to, I notice a young man sitting across from her. He is looking at her in the most empathetic way. Almost as if he is reflecting over his life, or just how not everyone has it the same way. The woman places her water bottle back into her bag and begins to rub her hands together as if making a warming motion. The young man paused for a second, then while reaching into his backpack he said “I want to give you some gloves.” Without giving her time to respond, he reached over and placed the gloves in her hands. A look of astonishment swept across her face as the man stood up to get off at the next stop. The woman looked at him and graciously thanked him asking where he had gotten them. He replied, “They were a Christmas gift.” Then he walked off.
As he walked away I felt reflective. Noting the reactions of a few people who were close enough to see what happened, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Since I’ve started traveling and even more so now that I am living in such a diverse city as New York, I can say that I feel I’ve been hardened a bit to some people. You become so accustomed to seeing homeless people or getting asked for money that you start to ignore them altogether. I still don’t believe in handing money to the homeless in most cases, but this story reminded me that sometimes giving has a purpose. It is these simple reminders that make us realize how fortunate we are and how as humans we have fundamentally the same needs.
Here is a similar story about a Bengali boy