Monthly Archives: November 2008

An Attempt at Kindness

 

As follow-up to my last post, I have to write about this story because I think it’s just too funny.

 

The kindness of strangers—yes, it’s something that most all of us agree keeps us going in our busy and oftentimes challenging day-to-day lives. It’s an unexpected prize that gives us hope, like a five-dollar win on a lottery ticket or randomly bumping into an old friend on the street. I try to always remember the times strangers have extended kindness towards me and make a point of doing the same whenever a chance arises.

 

The other night I had a spur-of-the-moment desire to see a movie, so I went, solo. Having arrived rather early, I had my pick of seats and found one in a vacant row. There was room to put my drink, a spare chair on which to rest my bag and both arm rests free—great. But as soon as the theatre darkened and we transitioned from silent ads to coming attractions, floods of people poured in, and no longer was I alone. A family squeezed passed me taking the last three seats in my row, but still the ones to my immediate right and left were without bodies. I noticed a pair of women my age pacing up and down the stairs scanning the audience for a pair of seats to claim. Well, I thought to myself, I should probably move so these friends can sit together as I would want someone to do this for me. So I picked up my coat and bag that I’d plopped beside me. And while moving over, I tried to catch their attention and signal the spots for them. As they headed up the stairs a woman (also of the same age) stepped into the row and planted herself in one of the two, now empty chairs. Wait a minute, what? I didn’t move for you. Sure it’s first come, first serve at the movies, but really! Didn’t she see any other single seats she could’ve taken so the duos amongst us could stay intact? I cringed as she sprawled out taking over both seats, munching on her bag of popcorn without a care in the world. But a moment later a boy in a mother-son pair that was also on the hunt, came along and asked could he sit there. And of course, she said yes and cleared her things. Ok fine, so he found a place to sit, but throughout the movie he ended up having to pass the shared box of milk duds back and forth to his mom sitting behind him. I wondered for a second if it would have been strange had I leaned over and said, “Excuse me miss, I moved over for them”. Something told me to keep my mouth shut so I did. And though I’m laughing now, it totally ticked me off at the time.

 

Well…at least I tried.

 

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The Kindness of Strangers

When I decided to come to New York at age eighteen I wasn’t the least bit daunted. I’d spent all of my life until then in a small town in Florida where everyone was nice as pie, but was perfectly confident that I’d be able to make my way in the big city and even get along with the supposed ‘rude’ New Yorkers. But as soon as I arrived, I had my doubts. I had just moved into my freshman dorm room and at the encouragement of my mother I went down the hall and knocked on my neighbors’ door to say hello. A cheerful, rosy-cheeked girl leaped from her desk and greeted me with a smile that was, no exaggeration, the size of Montana. Across the room there was another girl sitting on her bed. On the walls surrounding her were collages of pictures and posters and every bit of high-school memorabilia one could imagine. She was fine, knowing that ‘home’ was a mere sixty-minute train ride from the city and she was sharing a dorm room with her BFF since seventh grade. This chick didn’t really need any new friends. At my soft-spoken “hi” she flicked her wrist into a wave and shot back a cool “hey”. I swallowed the lump in my throat and thought to myself: Great, a mean girl!

 

Well it turned out she wasn’t so mean after all and within weeks, we were attached at the hip—instant best friends. Why it worked? We balanced each other out. She, the girl from Long Island, taught me how to be a little tougher, and I, the Florida beach-bum softened her up a little in return. The way I saw it, this was her nature, beause she was a New Yorker, and as everyone had warned me, New Yorkers were rude.

 

Now that I’ve lived here for some time and consider myself a legitimate New Yorker, I know better. We’re outspoken when need to be and we get impatient at times, but really, can you blame us? The crowds, the hustle bustle, the fortune we pay for everything! In reality,  a lot of us here, despite the madness, are very nice people… to tourists, to transplants, even to strangers.

 

A number of years ago I had a knee injury, and as a result had to have surgery. After months of recovery and physical therapy, I was pretty much back to normal, but followed doctor’s orders and stayed away from anything too extreme that might cause a repeat. So I wasn’t engaging in the sports that caused the initial injury, but of course had to go on with my life, and there were certain physical activities I couldn’t completely avoid, like walking to the grocery store. One night I was en route home from my weekly visit to the local D’Agostino’s, and as usual, had both arms weighted down by bags, easily ten pounds on each side. Taking a step, I kicked a slab of uneven sidewalk, inadvertently of course, and immediately, felt an unbearable pain in my knee. I could do nothing but hobble to the windowsill of the storefront I was passing. I dropped my bags and with no restraint, started to cry. I had no idea what I would do. Home was still three blocks away and I could not get myself there.

 

As I sat there helpless, thinking of who I could call to come to my aid, two girls came out from the store to close up shop for the night and found me. “Are you okay?” they asked. In a struggle to catch a breath in between my tears, I told them what had happened. And though I could tell that they genuinely wanted to help me, it was apparent in their blank faces, that they too were unsure of what to do next. A minute later two giant-sized men with with sculpted arms and triangle-shaped torsos rounded the corner and shouted to the girls standing next to me, “Hey ladies.” Great, I thought, a few more people to join in on my ordeal. They looked down at me, at that point a sobbing mess and asked me what was the matter.

 

It was almost unreal, what happened next. After asking me where I lived, one of the guys bent down and picked me up, and the girls,

together took my groceries. And off we walked, the five of us, to my apartment. These strangers carried me home.  

All New Yorkers are rude? I think not.

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Cheers to Barack

barack

 

 

For the past few weeks I’ve been biting my tongue. I’ve been so worried to get my hopes up and then go and jinx myself. With a nervousness running through me, I waited all day yesterday, until evening, to turn on the television to check in on the election results. Four years ago on this same night, I slept with my head at the foot of my bed so to be mere inches from the TV and be able to periodically turn it on to check status. When I woke up at seven the next morning, blurry-eyed, I thought it was a dream—a nightmare really. But, it was true, Dubya had won it again. And I cried.

 

I was wondering earlier, if we had to go through eight years with him to finally arrive at where we are today. I cried again last night, but this time they were tears of joy. It is a new day! It’s the beginning of something great; something not only our country, but the whole world has waited for for a long time. Last week I overheard someone say that whatever the outcome is, it wouldn’t really impact them anyway. I scowled to myself and thought “What?” This impacts everyone…even my seven-month-old niece.

 

Ironically, I was with my niece this election day and all of this afternoon I couldn’t look at her without thinking how because of the events of yesterday, she will live in a better world. And I thought what a lucky little girl she is—how lucky we all are to be living as witnesses to such a step for humankind. The face of Jesse Jackson in tears touched me, as did the face of Oprah, and the thought of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the faces of all of the black men and women who stand so proud for our first African American president. But it was amazing too, to see so many others who had tears in their eyes as well—white people, people in lands far from the United States of America, even Republicans(!), cheering for this day. So many have already been touched by the spirit of this good man who will lead us in the reawakening of the American Dream.

 

I’ve never cared so much about an election. I’ve never seen such enthusiasm and such support. I’ve never seen a rally like the one in Grant Park, that looked like Times’ Square on New Year’s Eve. I sat watching the television at eleven o’clock last night, and got texts from at least a dozen friends, sharing messages “We did it!”, “Incredible!”, “Truly Amazing!” And I was just on a bus home to New York City overhearing fellow passengers exuberant over the goings-on of the past twenty-four hours. I can’t wait to cheer with all of my friends in person, and crack open a bottle of champagne in honor of Barack. I want to thank him as he embarks on this journey to pave the road to the future where our children will know no boundaries that are born by the color of our skin; where they will know that anything is possible; where they will live and speak those famous words: “Yes We Can!”

 

Today my heart is full.

 

 

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