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A NYC moment: Random act of Kindness

NYC is a place of wonders that continues to surprise me with how easily the trendy, elite and technologically advanced could buttress the mundane, downtrodden and unfortunate. Often as I walk the streets scanning faces set in stone, flowing in the endless waves of people that mark the city scape with their darting , halting and ever meandering life lines, I think of the stories that all these people have, the places they have been and the places they are going. Last night, after a great time spent with old and new friends at a Village bar near 14th st. as if often the case for me after imbibing a good amount of alcohol and having danced the night away, I had the munchies. Unfortunately, the night of revelry ensured that I had no cash to buy the pizza so the hunt for an ATM was on the way, in the city that usually means a walk of no more than a block and sure enough a block later I found a Chase ATM.

I entered and began my transaction , as I finished I noticed motion in the peripheral area of my right side and was startled to see a young woman sitting there on 3 satchel's reading a paper. It was obvious from her appearance that she was homeless, though she was not overly disheveled. As I made light of the fact that she was in an ATM hall where she would otherwise not be allowed to stay, I inquired about her circumstance and how it was that she ended up homeless, her name was Sarah. She told me of her move to New York from South Florida and in the process betrayed disappointment in her parents and her one older sister, both of whom from which she was estranged. As we continued to talk about various ranging topics it was obvious she was an intelligent person, familiar with disparate occurrences both locally and nationally and internationally. After some time I told her I was on my way to a pizza joint and asked if she'd like something to eat. She hesitated and then agreed, as we left the ATM hall she mentioned another pizza place a block further from where I was originally going. We headed there and I let her order what she wanted, she opted for two slices with chicken and broccoli and a bottle of coke. As we ate we continued to talk and on our way out I over heard a table of patrons speaking a language I couldn't identify, as Sarah came to the doorway I asked her if she could identify the language, she didn't proffer a guess but I guessed Icelandic, to which the patrons told me "a little bit south" and Sarah responded "Dutch", to which they agreed. She apparently had spent some time in Europe, as we wished the patrons a good visit to NYC we left the store and walked toward the subway.

I was happy that I was able to provide a slice of joy in what is doubtless a difficult life on the street, during our talks I got the possibility that she could have been mentally ill as she expressed certain unusual fears about the "pull" of the moon on our walk to the station but she is just another human being trying to make it in this city that never sleeps. I shook her hand and wished her much success on her goals of trying to get out of her current situation and she wished me success in my endeavors and down I went into the bowels of the city. I'll probably never see her again but it feels really great to have performed a self less random act of kindness during this holiday season (not that I would not have done it any other time) and in particular this economic turmoil, helping others when one has no reason to is an act that is its own payment.


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