In a world filled with self-seeking, self-absorbed and narcissistic people, to meet and experience the depths a phenomenal person is an ever welcomed breath of fresh air. Sometimes I consider such experience a privileged coincidence and at other times I think about it as the beautiful symphony of a divine orchestration. Journeying through life at some point this year, I met five new men in one day! I call these men amazing because they all reminded me that in everyone lies the power to choose any kind of character to exhibit.
On this fateful day, I was pretty much exhausted and spent. With the little strength left in me I dragged two heavy travel bags alone through the notoriously vast and busy New York Penn station. It was quite daunting, exhausting and all at the same time overwhelming for me. People walked by barely noticing ‘my struggles’. I was almost out of breath by the time I made it to the barriers leading to the platform I needed to catch my onward train. While purchasing a new metro card at the self-service machine, my mind remained fixated on the flight of stairs I would need to scale to make it to the platform.
With a travel pass in hand I stood clueless wondering how I would make it through the revolving steel barriers with two and a half bags…my handbag being the half of course. I noticed a young man standing by, probably waiting for someone, something or soliciting. Our eyes met and he walked over. He kindly offered to watch my bags while I go through the barrier to push the wide exit door from inside so he could pass them to me. I made the choice to trust a complete stranger even though life through known friends have served a slice of betrayal one too many times. He passed the two travel bags to me and went his way before I could thank him properly.
Now I was faced with the dreaded flight of stairs. Clutching my handbag firmly to my side, I bent over to reach for the first bag to drag uphill. Then, another man coming down the stairs said to me, “Going up? I’ll get that for you.” In split seconds, another man coming through the barriers rushed for the second box saying, “I’ll take that”. Oh my days! I was left speechless as I walked up the stairs like a queen with her subjects running errands headed of her. Again, they didn’t wait for a thank you though I yelled it after them. My train came and I settled in.
I got to my stop, got off the train to realize I was in the last coach and the exit from the subway was in the other direction. With no elevator at this station and alone with two and a half bags again, I dragged them all to the bottom of the stairs. By this time, I was the only one left on the platform. While I was still trying to psych myself for the task ahead, lo, running down the stairs was another man with whom I had a language barrier but his hand gesture and my head nodding was all the communication we needed to understand each other. He heaped the boxes on his shoulders and hurled it up the stairs one after the other then went his way to catch his train.
The last man had just come off another train that just arrived at the station. He offered to help with the boxes to the street level. By the time my boxes and I surfaced, it was dark. He asked if I was getting on a bus or taxi. I told him I would be waiting to be picked up. He said no other word and just stood few metres away from me. It felt like he was waiting for me to be in safe hands before he went about his way. I was right. The minute my ride turn up, he left.
The rest of that night I kept thinking about my experiences with these five amazing men of different colours, shades and race. They didn’t know me yet they chose to show me kindness and each act of kindness touched me in a very special way. I learned again that I don’t have to know you to choose to show you kindness. I don’t have to offer help just to get commended. I don’t have to treat people bad because I am having a bad day. I learned kindness all over again. Our world would be a better place if we choose to choose right. Cradled at the bottom of every human soul no matter the exterior façade is a longing that kindness satisfies. There were other men around me that day but these five chose to be exceptional and phenomenal.
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“Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.