Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Kindness of Strangers

While today's blizzard has stopped the world cold, there was something today that warmed my innards on this cold snowy day.

Making my way home today through the relentless storm, I got to my car, parked at my train station, and found it immobilized by the accumulated snow drifts. The local cabs had just shut down, the driving was too treacherous and the politicians called for everyone to stay off the roads.

Getting out of Manhattan was easy enough, but the last mile home was going to be a bitch. I started my long walk home. My plan was to walk in the tire tracks of cars, it was marginally easier than the unplowed sidewalks. I felt semi-safe, not many cars were on the road.

Suddenly, I heard someone call out from behind me, "Where ya heading?" A driver in an SUV was leaning out of his car, and when I told him my destination, he offered me a ride! I never hitched a ride in my life, but with conditions being what they were, I gratefully clambered into his car.

He was able to drive me about halfway home. I was so very appreciative for any ride at all. I offered to pay him as I got out, but he waved me off. I thanked him and wished him well.

Returning to my walking in tire tracks plan, I slowly advanced towards home, gingerly stepping in slippery ruts in the snow.

A few moments later, another SUV appeared in front of me through the sideways streaks of windblown snow. The driver pulled over, rolled down his window and called out to me, "Need a lift?" Well, I had already had my first hitch, I eagerly said "Yes, I do!" I told him where I was heading, got into his vehicle, and off we went through the increasingly deep snow. It turns out, the driver lived only a few blocks from me, and was happy to help a neighbor. I was ecstatic to be helped.

I offered to pay my benefactor for his generosity, but he waved me off, as my first ride had. I felt embarrassed by their kindnesses. Wading through the snow to my front door, I wondered, would I have offered to help someone in my predicament? I felt kind of shamed by the truth.

It's such a warm and welcome feeling when the callousness of daily life is pierced by a selfless act of humanity. Now I'll happily pay this forward if, or when, I get the chance.

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