Even when laden like a pack mule with a small suitcase and three other bags — as I was when leaving work last week — I still manage to move with the purpose, haste and agility of a typical New Yorker. The two bottles of wine I’d purchased on my lunch break — which seemed like a good idea at the time — now rattled and slammed violently against my leg as I fast-walked toward the subway. As I neared the top of the station entrance I spotted the digital time banner: my train was one minute away.
This is usually the greatest sight on earth — but in this instance, it was decidedly not-great. My train’s arrival was imminent and I was hobbled by way too much gear — I wasn’t going to make it. As I rapidly descended the stairs, I cursed every bag (and those stupid bottles of wine — what was I thinking?). My suitcase banged and twisted in my hand as it fell against the slick, concrete steps that were barely visible, my view of them blocked by the bags I was carrying. But I plunged ahead on sheer blind faith, hoping that I wouldn’t tumble down.
And then, there it was, the C train, rumbling into the station like an over eager dinner guest, arriving way too early, long before I was ready for it. I lurched up to the turnstile and put one bag down, searching frantically for my cell phone to tap and pay. It wasn’t in my bag side pouch, where I usually kept it. I fumbled through my pockets with the desperation of Jesse Pinkman searching for the ricin-laced cigarette pack in Breaking Bad.
The train was coming to a stop when I saw a hand reach over with a cell phone, and magically tap my turnstile. Then came the “ding” that signals the fare had been paid. Edith Piaf never hit such a beautiful note. I looked over at the neighboring turnstile, and this smiling, angelic face said “Go! Make your train. Mine’s not coming yet.” I thanked this lovely subterranean Samaritan profusely — though perhaps not profusely enough, I did have a train to catch, after all. I clattered across the platform and managed to get onto the train just as the doors slid shut.
Wow, did that really just happen?
Probably more often than one thinks: Despite the stereotypes, New Yorkers look out for one another —we even look out for our tourists. This spontaneous act of kindness, this moment of empathy in the midst of struggle, this generosity was worth so much more than a $2.75 subway fare. I don’t know who that woman was at the 70th St/Central Park West subway station, but I hope she reads this. Thank you —again, and more profusely this time —for your selfless, thoughtful gesture. It meant the world to me and restored my faith in humankind.
If we can all continually look for ways to lift one another in tiny— yet monumentally huge moments like this —there just may be hope for us after all.
This is the spirit of the Family Bee Hive. We support, we care. If you can contribute in donation or time or resources, it will go much further than you can imagine. Just like a subway fare incrementally increased its value to me on that unforgettable evening.