Saturday, January 16, 2010

Slowing Down...

As the day before yesterday's post emphasized, New Yorkers are busy, on the move people, who have too little time to do all the things that need to be done in the big city. We hurry out of our apartments to hurry along the sidewalk to hurry to the subway to hurry to our jobs to hurry to our shopping to hurry to our shows and our late night dinners to hurry back to our apartments to hurry into bed. It's a rat race, as they say, but a really interesting one. Occasionally, though, it does us good to slow down; sometimes it even does other people good.

As I hurried from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal the other day to hurry into the Number One subway, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of two things. First, I saw a surprisingly fragile man literally inching up the stairs from the subway, reaching, at first, in vain for the railing that he needed to grasp to maintain his stability. Everyone around him scurried by as if he were invisible. His staggeringly slow pace compared to all the hustle and bustle around him was almost laughable. Second, someone who had been hurrying along just like everyone else stopped abruptly. She stared just for a moment at this vulnerable man teetering on the subway steps and then she reached out swiftly and reassuringly. She guided him gently up the stairs, set him on his tortoise-like way back on the level pavement, smiled weakly as he took his mini-steps toward the Ferry, and then, quickening her own pace once again, hurried away. A very nice gesture, I thought. Simple, quick, helpful. It won't happen, though, without people who are willing to break out of their routines, even if just momentarily, to look out for someone else who might be in need.

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