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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2 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. That Girl says:

    What a great story! I found all the New Yorkers we met to be friendly, warm and outgoing. People say the same of Londoners but they’re just going about their business.
    I gave up my seat at a bar to a lady in New York and you’d think I’d given her the world! Consequently we had a great chat about where she was originally from and it made me wish that the English would be a bit more open sometimes.

  2. Jodi says:

    wow that is so great! I did not have that same experience but i don’t think i was very friendly either..People at my work are super open and friendly so i was super shocked to be completely ignored by other students when i went back for a class a couple of years ago at the local college.

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