Living alone and not having an other of any significance, I spend the lion’s share of my waking hours by myself. Which is fine by me, I enjoy the shit out of my own company. I find me hilarious. But, that being said, there are times when I feel like I’m out here all on my own. And, I’ll level with you, it’s exhausting to do everything for and by yourself. So that is why an unexpected gesture of kindness not only makes my day, it makes a lasting impression. And it makes me want to be that kind of person: the kind of person who makes someone’s day a little bit better in some small way that they never saw coming—sort of a kindness drive by.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am ignorant to the weather forecast on the reg and, as a result, am almost always ill-prepared for whatever storm may be a brewin’. One particular morning, I had to run an errand on the other side of town. So, I grabbed my phone and headphones (because God forbid my life unfold without the soundtrack playing in real time), skipped the weather channel, and bounced. I walked out into a reasonably sunny, mild day and made my way to the subway. Somewhere between City Hall and The Liberty Bell, the sky opened up and began dumping rain all over the City of Brotherly Love. Naturally, I was unaware of any of this until I made it up to the landing of the staircase leading out of the subway station. I wasn’t the only one caught off guard by the drastic shift in climate. There were a number of people who paused on that landing, weighing their options of waiting it out or making a run for it. I didn’t have an umbrella (shocker), so I stood there simultaneously hoping it would let up sooner than later and knowing that it wasn’t going to. The woman standing next to me turned to me and asked, “How far do you have to go?”
“Oh, I’m going to 6th and Pine,” I replied. It wasn’t terribly far from the station. But in a torrential downpour, I might as well have been walking to Egypt.
“Here,” she said. In one fluid motion, she handed me her umbrella and ran up the steps out into the monsoon. I wasn’t just surprised; I was straight up floored. Who does that? I’ll tell you who: not enough people, clearly, otherwise I wouldn’t have found it so mind blowing. And you know what? Shame on me, because if my life had depended on predicting whether or not that woman would do something nice for the likes of me, I’d be dead and buried. Not in a million years did I see that coming. Shows what I know.
Fast forward to last week.
I don’t know what the weather was like where you are this past Friday, but in Philadelphia, it was a little “End of Days-ish.” Cold, hard rain that blows at you from all directions. The kind of day where you wouldn’t leave the house without a sturdy umbrella. And the kind of day that as soon as you’re outside, you wonder why you even bothered with the umbrella because you’re completely wet. I was getting home after running around town in that mess and was fishing my keys out of my bag when I saw a girl walking down my street. She had no umbrella and no coat (girl after my own heart). As she hurried past my stoop, bent over in a sort of huddled, walking fetal position, I remember that day on the subway stairs.
“HEY!” I screamed down the block. She stopped and looked over her shoulder. I ran over to her, my arm out stretched in her direction, with an umbrella in hand.
“You need this more than I do.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Just give it to someone else when you’re done.”
She said “Thanks” and hurried on her way. Maybe I made her day, maybe not. I know I made my day. I saw this quote not long ago and it has really stuck with me.
I want to be that person. And I want more people to want to be that person. Dude, I’m telling you. The world would be a much better place and life would be so much easier for all us, if everyone would just BE COOL.
I’m not naïve enough to think that handing off a beat up old umbrella to a stranger is going to change the world, or stop the mass shootings, or end the nightmare in Syria. But it in a world full of chaos, I guarantee it will make you feel better, if only until the next time you scroll through your news feed. So do it. I dare you. And have fun with it, get creative. What small thing can you do or give to a stranger that will help them out today?
Let’s hear it. I’m all ears.