I thought for today I should let Mrs G speak, it’s my way of being kind and trying to get more people to listen to here rather than me. She’ll shout at me as she’ll want to have written this herself but this is from a comment she made on an old post of mine so I think I own the copyright, but I think it shows that kindness is out there in the most unsuspecting of places.
Coming from what is arguably the most notoriously selfish city in the world, NYC, I wonder. I see people refuse to step aside to let others onto a subway car because they want to lean on the doors. My mother had a period where she was severely slowed because of a bad hip and still limping to work every day, yet commuters would still shove her, or get irritated when they were stuck behind her on a staircase.
And that’s to say nothing of the muggings, scams, drunken vomiting, and the rest of the scope of activities which show a complete disregard for other people.The NYC subway could be the perfect example of this argument.Indeed, one questions motives. If someone on the subway starts to talk to someone else, motives are questioned. I knew a guy from the Midwest who used to give up seats to women, and they would eye him suspiciously, wondering what he was after. If you bump into someone because the train jars you, brace yourself for a fight.
Once I saw a dude standing in front of the doors of the E train at rush hour shouting at everyone who was trying to get off the train “Don’t touch me! Don’t fucking touch me!”
As if people *wanted* to bump into him. It’s a dog eat dog world on the 1 train, and there’s no room for manners in the struggle to accomplish one’s own personal agenda.And yet, there is good underneath everything. I was talking to a woman who had just had a baby and asked her if she ever had problems navigating the subway stairs with said baby, and she said that in the four months since she had had her baby, she never had to ask for help. Someone always came along to help her carry the stroller in a wordless favor.
One morning I was on the Long Island Rail Road and I realized I forgot my entire wallet at home, including my monthly train pass. I couldn’t even pay for a ticket on the train, and we were speeding ever closer to the city. I was toast. But when the ticket collector came around, he gave me a sympathetic nod and waved me away when he heard my story because he had seen me every day. We had never so much as said hello, but he helped me out of an impossible jam even so. And then when he had left, a woman sitting across from me extended a five dollar bill.
“Here, take this,” she said.
I tried to explain that my commute was already taken care of, but she wouldn’t hear of it.
“Then take it and buy some lunch.”
Even more profound is the time I had been fired and was riding the train home. It was surprising and humiliating, and the combination left me in floods of tears as I sat on the subway. Across from me a couple of people were whispering and pointing at me–this only added to my humiliation, and so of course I only cried harder.
When they got up to get off the train, they slipped me a note, and it read: “Don’t cry. Everything will be alright. From two people who love you.”
I swear I’m not making this up!But at the same time, in a world of isolation, where we create barriers with iPods and iPads and eReaders, to break down that barrier somehow seems odd. Do people only appreciate help when they need it? Is kindness a waste?I can’t say that it is. I can’t say that because I necessarily think I’m right, but because to admit that it is a waste means that I’ve given up hope.
To read more from Mrs G (and try to get in the mind of someone who puts up with me 24/7 – a real act of kindness) visit http://acrossthewideocean.wordpress.com/