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Kindness on 42nd Street

I witnessed one of the most memorable acts of kindness I have ever seen, one fall day on 42nd Street. It was late into the fall season and just starting to get chilly. I was having "one of those days" in New York where you say to yourself "I am not going to cry in public". Put it this way, it seemed like everyone was being mean to me personally  (not true, but it seemed like it). I had to dodge two rats  (are they supposed to be on the platform?). Then as a little cherry on the cake, as I was standing on 42nd and Broadway, waiting for the crosstown bus, I saw an on-foot police chase, guns out and everything, and the bus driver wouldn't open the door right away.

NYC Street Rats

NYC Street Rat

I wanted to get away and escape the chaos, and the bus driver just stared at me through the dirty window.  Every interaction I had that day had been frustrating or inconvenient, or just plain disturbing. But when I finally got on the bus, and we got stuck in tremendous traffic, I looked out and saw a very heart-warming and memorable act of kindness. There was a lady lying on the sidewalk with a sheet covering her. She was an older lady, and looked like she could  be anyone's grandma. Sweet and frail. She was sleeping. 

NYC Bus Driving Pass

NYC Bus Driving Pass

A man in a fancy track suit and prestine white sneakers walked over to her. He knelt down and gently woke her up. He spoke to her for a bit (me being on the bus, I obviously couldn't hear what he was saying).  He then reached into his track suit pocket and pulled out some cash, which she accepted. She nodded, and said a few words, and went back to sleep. He tucked her in with the sheet like she was a little baby, and got up and began to walk away.

He walked a few paces away from her, and stopped walking. He turned around and kind of curiously stared at her. He lingered. I wondered what he was thinking.  It wasn't just the normal, drop a couple bucks in someone's paper cup. Something happened between those two people.  He seemed not to be able to pull his eyes away from the lady. The tension between him having to leave, but not wanting to was tremendous. As my bus slowly pulled away I cried a little as I watched him finally turn and leave. I was tempted to get off at the next stop and run down the block to tell him I saw his act of kindness, and give him a hug, and say thank you. He made my day. But I didn’t. It was just one of those things that I saw and will never forget.

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