The Kindness of Strangers

So living in NYC has definitely jaded me a bit when it comes to dealing with strangers.  After growing up in a small rural town where you said hello to everyone you passed in the supermarket whether you knew them or not (often times you did), it took me a while to get used to not saying hello to the bodega guy or smiling at people on the subway.  I’m not saying every single person is rude in NYC, it’s just that people are usually too busy in their own lives to take some time out to strike up a conversation with strangers. I’ve actually been living here long enough that I get a little freaked out when someone tries to talk to me.

However, last night on the subway, a woman did something totally unexpected for me and it still has me in a good mood just thinking about it.  I was sitting on the subway reading my book.  I knew my stop was next but I like to sit for as long as I possibly can. I’m not one to get up early and stand by the door. So when I did get up as the doors opened (for those that don’t live in NYC, there’s only about a 15 second window to get off), a few pieces of a friend’s necklace fell out of my purse on the floor. (The clasp was loose and I had previously dropped pieces of the necklace when I had worn it to a wedding over the weekend – I should’ve known.)  If it had been my necklace, I might’ve left the pieces there just to get off the train.  But it was a friend’s and I couldn’t give her back half of her necklace.  So, as I bent over trying to grab them, saying “shit, shit, shit” to myself, another woman jumped up and stood in the doorway for me so I wouldn’t miss my stop!

Granted, it wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world to go an extra 10 blocks.  But really, that woman didn’t have to jump up and hold the door for me either.  I feel like the only time I ever see random acts of kindness is actually on the subway.  Maybe we all realize how miserable it is to be on those damn trains and as much as people try to pretend they are sleeping so they don’t have to give their seat to some elderly person/little kid/pregnant woman (my theory from experience is that only other women give pregnant women seats), sometimes they feel obligated to hand you your dropped scarf. And every now and then a person will jump out of their seat to hold the door for you. I’ve always liked the “pay it forward” idea, and I’m definitely going to try to go out of my way for someone the next chance I get.

1 reply
  1. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    I agree with the "only other women give pregnant women seats" comment. I've given up my seat several times (including last night), often when the very obviously preggers chick is standing directly in front of a guy. Weird thing happened last night – 2 stops AFTER I had given up my seat, the guy who the lady had been standing in front of got up and offered his seat to another girl, who then tapped me and asked if I wanted it since I had given mine up. I declined, but it was a nice offer. I'm assuming he didn't notice the pregnant woman initially, then felt like an a-hole?


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