New York Kindness

I have often written of how much I love NY and it’s no secret that this town is the love of my life. Still, I can’t pretend it’s easy to live here since the very opposite is true. Why is it, then, that my love is keeping strong? One of the elements that sustain me through my weaker days is the kindness people living here offer me.

Many New Yorkers have probably just re-read the previous sentence, just to make sure they saw it right. It’s true that New Yorkers are usually thought to be extremely busy and selfish, not to mention self-centered. Sure, I see this every day, but – and I do not know if this is my luck or my karma – what I receive from New Yorkers is most often pure kindness. It’s hidden in little things and everyday gestures. Life in NY often resembles a roller coaster: new challenge to face every day and a never-ending to-do list. I sometimes think that this place would have been unlivable, had the people and the city gotten in your way. As it is, I am met with kindness every single day.

Examples? Recently, I took a ferry to New Jersey for the very first time: the guys collecting tickets stood at the frozen bay and smiled, instead of bitching about how cold it was. They also wished me a pleasant trip, even though it took around 5 minutes. When I got off, I asked people on the bus for directions and several people jumped up to help me out, and the driver made sure he got as near to my destination as possible, told me not to worry and basically drove me to the door of the building I was going to, and wished me a pleasant day on top of that. 

Every time I go to get groceries, the clerks greet me with a smile, ask if I found everything I need and if they can help me. I am not naïve: I know this is part of their work, the typically American “customer service” – but still, it makes me feel better. One guy at the subway station I depart from every day places a small card in his booth window every day: “Good Morning Everyone!”, and it makes me smile. Every time I get on the train, among the thousand possible scenarios of the ride itself, it may also happen that someone’s baby or someone’s dog will suddenly become a topic of a lively, friendly conversation, with everyone pitching in. Smiles appear, everyone feels engaged and I leave the train smiling, as well. When I go to the deli, the clerk talks to me in broken English, calling me “sweetie”. I won’t even mention the fact that people here haven’t got the least problem complimenting your outfit or asking you where you got it. Or the exclamation “You are beautiful!”, shouted out by more or less charming guys. Even when that doesn’t help and I just walk around with a sad face, I will most likely see someone smiling at me. And you know what? It works.