A few days ago I was rushing through Grand Central on my way to work (behind schedule as usual). I passed a group of about fifteen smartly dressed Southern ladies between the ages of fifty and seventy five (best guess). They were huddled over a map of some sort and a tourist guide discussing what way to go next. Like most things you see in NYC, I noted it and kept walking. I got about twenty feet away and stopped short. It was as if a giant hand had grabbed me by my coat collar. I made an abrupt about face and walked back toward them.
“Do you ladies need any help?”
“Oh yes please. That would be great.”
I asked where they were going.
“We’re headed to the 9/11 Memorial.”
I asked if they knew which train they need to take.
“Oh yes, the 4 or 5 train.”
So I pointed them in the direction of the subway and told them to follow the signs.
“Can we buy a ticket on the train?”
I explained the workings of the Metrocard vending machines and told them they’d be fine.
They thanked me and headed off toward the Lexington Ave line. I continued on to the Shuttle. They whole exchange took five minutes, tops. It didn’t really make me any later than I already was and I felt in a much better mood. But I didn’t think too much about it.
Last night when I got to my car at the train station, it was covered in snow. I started it up and began cleaning off the snow. I drive an SUV. Reaching the roof, even with a long handled snow brush, is difficult. I had not worn boots (bad decision) and slogging back and forth through the snow drifts was no fun in Comfort Mocs. As I worked, more and more commuters finished cleaning their cars and left. Soon it was just me and another SUV driver still working. I was tired. I had worked late and taken the 6:30 train. It was almost 8:00 and I knew I was still going to be cleaning off snow for awhile. I was working on the rear of the SUV when a lump of snow hit me on the head. I looked around the side of the vehicle, and there was the other SUV driver knocking the remaining snow off the roof and hood. I thanked him and he said “No problem. I came prepared.” His help probably saved me fifteen minutes. That doesn’t sound like much but when it’s late and you’re cold and tired and you still have a forty minute drive ahead of you, fifteen minutes counts.
All the way home, I thought about the simple, kind thing that man had done. He made no fuss about it. It was like it was a spur of the moment decision to give me a hand. I have no idea if he knew how much his help made my night better.
I wonder if the ladies I had helped a fews days before felt the same way.