Two instances in the past week made me question the common conception that New Yorkers are selfish people. In movies and on TV, New Yorkers are often made out to be a fast-paced, uncaring and selfish breed. I now have evidence to the contrary.
Last week, I unknowingly dropped my Blackberry in the street as I walked to the subway from work. I realized it was missing, but I thought I had left it at the office. That night, I got an e-mail from my dad saying “Hector” had called him and had my Blackberry.
I met Hector the next morning on the corner of my street. He is a Wall Street mail truck driver and offered to come down to my area to drop off my phone. When we made plans to meet, Hector– who spoke very broken English– assured me “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get your phone.” Sure enough, Hector showed up at the exact spot we planned. I gave him $20 to say thanks, which he adamently refused until I exlaimed “Hector! Come on, you saved my life!” Which really, he did. Who am I without my Blackberry?… Another topic for another day.
I was pretty shocked that Hector had made such a huge effort to help out a complete stranger, expecting nothing in return. Of course, being the skeptic that I am, I was nervous to meet this man by myself and worried there was some alterior motive. Many would say that’s common sense. It made me stop to think about genuine kindness– the things you do for others with no expectation or motive other than humanity. Would I do the same for someone else? I hope I would.
To top off a week of random acts of kindness, I dropped a $20 bill while buying a Metro card near my apartment. The guy behind me waited patiently while I finished buying the card, and then held out the bill. “Here, you dropped this,” he said. Again, I was in shock that someone would return a $20 bill. I probably never would have realized I dropped it, or even that it was missing. That guy could have been twenty dollars richer that day, but instead, he decided to be a good person.
They say “what comes around goes around,” and I really hope Hector and the subway guy have something great happen this week. A random act of kindness can go a long way– and even (almost) restore my faith in the humanity of New Yorkers.
I dedicate this post to Hector and the subway guy.