Masters in the Center

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Importance of Kindness


Ghosts At Harrison Station
Originally uploaded by Gare and Kitty.
It's so important to be a people person. Taking the time to acknowledge each other makes all the difference.

I was surprised to see how kind the busy commuters can be. There are a lot of people who might be busy, or in a rush, but are still helpful and kind. Having grown up in a small town, I somehow thought that people in the city would not have the same kind of care for each other. I thought that a caring attitude was exclusively a small town trait. I'm finding out that I was wrong to think that. There are a lot of faces in the crowd, and its easy to dissociate from others in that situation. You might feel like "I'm just one of a million" or that you won't be remembered. In part that's true, but its dependent on your actions.

For example:

A woman sits down on the subway. She has a beautiful bunch of flowers in a vase that she's been carrying in a bag. As she sat, she set the flower bag down on the floor of the subway car. As the car shook and swayed, the bag fell over once. "These will be beautiful as long as I can get them home in one piece," she says to herself and the onlooking passengers as she picks it up. The car slows and pulls into the first stop. As it pulls away and bends around the first turn the bag falls over again. "Oh no, now" the woman says and uprights the bag again. After another turn the bag falls a third time. This time some water is leaking slowly onto the floor of the car. All the seats in the car are full, and the activity is drawing nearly everyone's attention. A man says "Do you need any help with that?" The woman smiles and says "No, but thank you that's very kind of you to ask," as she picks the flowers up for the third time. After getting the flowers under control she says thank you a second time to the stranger. The next stop is hers, and she leaves quietly, but not without offering thanks a third time.

I witnessed this on my commute home from work. It happened on the train from World Trade Center to Newark. I couldn't get over the fact that the woman thanked the stranger three times for only offering to help. He didn't actually have to lift a finger, but just showing that he was paying attention and would be willing to help made a huge difference for that woman. She was smiling as she sat and as she left. It's amazing the huge effect that a small gesture can have.

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