A Small Glimpse of Humanity
My colleague and I stepped into the subway. All around us, the chatter of the day’s events at Teacher’s College consumed the space. Yes, an amazing day. Entering the train, I immediately looked to my left, spotting two empty orange seats between passengers. Wow! I thought. At such a busy time, what are the chances? Hurriedly, my colleague and I lowered ourselves into the two seats. Feeling tentatively good– and definitely lucky– I settled in for the short ride to 96th Street where I knew we would transfer. My colleague joined me in the other seat. But as a former New Yorker, I continued to study the passengers entering the train car. I watched as more able bodies crowded onto the train, and, clutching a silver pole, located a square foot of real estate in the bustling car. I studied each of them.
And then it happened.
An elderly woman entered the fray. Dressed in a white fleece jacket and leaning on a walker, I watched her eyes scan the crowded car. No seats. Suddenly I stood, and reached out my hand to direct her to my seat.
But someone had already beat me to the gesture. A young man in a black waist-length coat had abruptly risen and politely began ushering her to his former seat. Carefully and slowly, the woman made her way to the gifted bench spot and sat. I thought I saw their eyes meet as she nodded brisk appreciation to the stranger, thanking him for this favor.
As I lowered back down, I silently thanked the man, too. Not because I was able to keep my seat, but for the humanity he exhibited in that moment. It’s nice to see that once in a while.