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An Act of Kindness Paid Forward
On a recent Saturday evening feeling, sluggish because of a lingering cold, I still walked briskly to the Bryant Park subway station. I needed to arrive at the West 4th Street subway station to catch the 6:20, which later became the 6:29 "A" train to Far Rockaway, Queens. Sitting in the first car, I felt the train moving jerkily between stations. Just before the train left the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station, I felt and heard the pounding of many-hands on the side of the train's first car — the people on the station's platform were doing all they could to ensure that the driver did not leave the station. The train stopped, but the doors didn't open immediately, and I heard someone screaming. A man's foot was caught in the door.
After several minutes, someone was assisting the man, who was gasping for air, to walk on the platform. The train was taken out of service, and three members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) arrived. The driver answered their questions, briefly, and another policeman directed stranded passengers to proceed to the station's booth-attendant, to obtain block-tickets for buses arriving just outside the station.
Hordes of people were jostling each other at the attendant's booth for block-tickets. I didn't get one, but asked the attendant how to get to Far Rockaway from the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station. She couldn't answer my question immediately, but offered to hand me subway and bus maps. Just as she said that she couldn't assist me right away, a young woman walked over to me, said she was going to Far Rockaway, that her car was parked at the Broadway Junction subway station (three stops ahead), and that she would drive me home. Another woman, with whom I had struck up a conversation about how we were getting home that evening, was also invited to join us.
At the bus stop, just near the subway station, we introduced ourselves and waited on the bus — we knew the correct number bus to take to Broadway Junction, but a number of buses sped past us because they were packed. Other stranded passengers, knowing the area well, hurried over to the bus stop just before ours, and boarded the bus we needed to catch. We were lucky that this woman, who offered to drive us home, had her car parked at the Broadway Junction subway station, because had we gotten to the station on one of the packed buses, the "A" train to Far Rockaway would have been delayed, anyway, because of the police investigation taking place at the subway station where we were stranded.
While waiting on a bus, I phoned a family member and related my ordeal. The family member was wary of my getting a ride with a stranger, who had her car parked at a subway station, at some distance from the Far Rockaway subway station. Upon hearing this, the woman, who works as a nurse at the NYU Langone Medical Center, showed us her ID, and said that often on Saturdays, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) carries out maintenance or construction work in subway stations, and that if scheduled to work, she usually drives away from Far Rockaway to Broadway Junction, and parks her car there.
Still having no luck with getting on a bus, we decided to share the cost of a taxi ride to Broadway Junction. The person with whom I had struck up a conversation earlier, another person who was in the same predicament, the woman who offered me help, and I piled into a taxi. I'll now refer to the woman who offered me assistance as nurse-angel. The nurse-angel's explanation as to how her car was parked at Broadway Junction was good enough for me. When we got to where her car was parked, I threw caution to the wind, and climbed in, along with the other woman. I was tired, but very happy to be on my way home.
On the drive home, the nurse-angel related to us her own ordeal earlier that morning. She needed to get to work in midtown Manhattan, and after parking her car near Broadway Junction, attempted to purchase a Metro Card to ride the train. She only had a $100 dollar bill, but the booth-attendant refused to break it, even though she wanted to purchase a $50 dollar Metro Card. Shortly afterwards, another booth attendant came on duty, and accepted the large bill. She would have been late for work, had she gone in search of change outside of the subway station, and was so grateful for this act-of-kindness, shown by the second booth attendant, that she phoned her boyfriend and said that she was going to repay this act-of-kindness that day. I, along with the other woman were the recipients of her act. Before she dropped me off, we exchanged phone numbers and promised to get together. I am now looking for ways to pay this awesome act-of-kindness forward. You'll know whether you have been the recipient of an act-of-kindness or whether you have been a contributor of one, because it feels good and a reward is never sought. My nurse-angel, adamantly refused to accept payment, even for gas.
Inspired? Use the New York Public Library's newly acquired interface to the catalog, Bibliocommons, and search on the keyword, "kindness." Happy paying your acts-of kindness forward, and here are a few titles to get you started: The Kindness Of Strangers, Awakening Kindness, Training the Mind & Cultivating Loving-Kindness, and Kindness in A Cruel World.