Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

New Yorkers have a reputation for being tough, cynical and sometimes worse. I was thinking about this the night before last when I got to my bus stop, only to find the entire block blocked off by construction.

I thought maybe the bus driver would cut me some slack and maybe stop at the corner so I stood there and tried to flag the bus down. It was cold and when the bus finally came it went right by me. So much for that.

I take the express bus since I live in the outer edges of the city and otherwise would have to take both the subway and then a local bus.

We don't even have a train stop in my area, isn't that a shame? So I decided to walk down to the next stop, which was several blocks south. Incredibly, when I got to the next bus stop on the route that block was also blocked off by construction. By this time, I was tired and furious at the MTA.

No signs were posted, no notice was given and later when I checked their site online - I didn't find any information there either. I asked one of the construction workers about any possible alternate stops hoping he might know but he just pointed me in the direction of the regular bus stop.

After attempting to call the MTA, 311 and then W to pick me up to no avail, I finally asked the female driver of a bus that had pulled up. She tried to help me and after a little bit of back and forth she suggested I hop on her bus and she would drop me off further uptown past the construction.

I sat down in her bus in awe.

Sometimes you get so caught up in how things are supposed to be that reality takes you aback. How very kind and considerate of this bus driver. I was cold. I was tired my feet hurt and I was beginning to get anxious about getting home. I had already walked a ways and then walked more trying to find an accessible bus stop. The idea of walking another seven or ten blocks down to another stop was not appealing.

Her kindness made me remember other similar kind gestures. The stranger who drove me the last mile to my mom's house, after I had walked 5 miles on 9/11 and refused to accept my offer of money for gas. The man (during a snowstorm and he was the only person on the road - an eerie site in NYC) who saw me walking and stopped to offer me a ride.

The coworker/classmate who offered to drop me off at the airport because it was right on her way home. She then also gave me her phone number, just in case, my flight was delayed or something happened to me - strange girl, in a strange town, who knew no one.

The teacher who anonymously paid for my senior trip so that I wouldn't miss out on the experience.

The neighbor who offered to get me a can of mace because he saw me getting off the bus late at night by myself.

The list goes on and on. Some of these actions may seem trivial at least to those who so humbly put them forth but it is that spirit of "it's nothing" combined with the unexpected surprise that a stranger would even care with the kind gesture itself that leaves one completely touched.
 
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