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Acts of Kindness

I am not a great lover of New York City – nice place to visit but wouldn’t want to live there. I have two daughters who live in the city so I do visit 3-4 times a year. Recently one daughter had foot surgery and to make her recovery easier, she needed help for herself and her daughter. I just spent ten days with them and am now returning home by AMTRAK (the only way I travel to NYC.)

As I return, I reflect on my experience and admit that New Yorkers sometime get a bad rap.  There are good and bad people everywhere but some places get more publicity – good or bad – than others. Many acts of kindness were shown me during this 10-day visit.  My daughter was housebound because her doctor ordered not to put any weight on her foot and she was not skilled at negotiating the stairs with her crutches. Therefore, I had to assume all household chores: cooking, food shopping, laundry, etc. plus take my granddaughter to school (she started kindergarten while I was there & her mom had to miss her first 2 days).

When I arrived in New York, I took the subway to her apartment. I know my way around on the subway and prefer it to NY cabs.  I have learned to travel lightly whether by train or plane, carrying an overnight bag and computer case. At my stop I got off and headed toward the stairs. Just as I was beginning to ascend the steps to the street a young man who was headed down the steps, with a female companion, said “Miss, let me help you with your bag.” I was a pleasantly surprised as he took my bag up to the street level. I thought to myself, “That’s a great welcome to the city” but expected no other such acts. How wrong I was!

There were many friendly gestures I witnessed between others and some to me. A couple stand out. In line at the grocery store I realized I had forgotten to bring my daughter’s store card which meant I could not capitalize on any special sales that required the card. Just as I was about to ask the cashier if she could locate the card if I gave her the phone number the lady in front of me, who had just checked out said, “Here, let her use my card”. (As I type this on the train, the conductor just passed through the almost-empty car where I sat.  As he reached a couple seats ahead of me he came back with a big smile and said “Good morning, how are you today?”My day is starting just right.)

Since my daughter was housebound she decided to do some constructive things at home. She cleaned closets and packed bags of clothes to give away. There is a shelter for women and children about a block away so I agreed to take them there. In addition to the clothes she had two strollers. On the street, I was stacking the bags onto one of the strollers when a young lady approached me and said, “Let me help you with those bags”. I accepted her offer and as we walked we chatted. I found out she was not even going in my direction but had crossed the street at the corner behind me and saw me struggling with the bags. She said she just would not have felt right if she had not offered to help.

These are just a few examples but they made an impression on me. None of these people had to do what they did but it is probably a normal way if life for them. It sure made me feel better about mankind and New Yorkers in particular.

The message: Each day try to do something for someone. No matter how small it may seem to you, it could make that person’s day. Sometimes just a smile goes a long way.    

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Each day try to do something for someone.

Lillian, I enjoyed your thoughts about big city and kindnesses. Back in Chicago, some years ago, I read an article with a lesson: Do the good resolved upon now. I know that sounds stiff and old-fashioned, but it has become a guide for me. The first time I responded to the idea, I was on the subway. It was morning rush hour. A well dressed woman was wearing a sky-blue satin pill box. When she looked up at me, I was delighted to notice that her eyes were the same lovely shade of blue. I was impressed, but I thought I was just a file clerk and she surely was a professional woman. It would seem impertinent to speak to her--but remembering the "good resolve," I told her it was a pleasure to see the that her hat matched the blue of her eyes. She smiled and said that was why she bought it and how good of me to notice. After that very positive experience, I give compliments where they are due--for cute babies, nice perfume, a lovely ensemble, a kind deed observed . . . Such things are all around us. We just need to take note of them.

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You are so right Dolores!

You are so right Dolores! There are so many things around us that we can make compliments about but often don't do it. I'm guilty but working to improve.

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not guilty !

How good to get a response. I love your smile, Lillian.   :)

Please don't feel guilty. Unaware is better, I think. We have to learn to be more observant and more responsive.

Have a lovely autumn.