Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hugs on the 2 Train

I got my Smile Cards in the mail on Thursday of last week. There were ten of them. In much the same way that my mom always used to say my brother’s birthday money would be “burning a hole in his pocket,” the Smile Cards were truly burning a hole in my pocket. I found myself thinking about them – to whom would I give them, what would I say, would I have to create a reason, or would one present itself? As of yesterday, I still hadn’t given even one Smile Card away. It was frustrating me, and I was thinking that I might just not be looking hard enough for the right SO (Smile Opportunity). Then yesterday, when I went into the post office to mail my taxes (I’d only been carrying them around with me for 10 days…) the woman working there, finding herself confronted with a long line of people, was, well, not her usual bubbly self. I handed her one and said, “I know people must be driving you crazy this time of year – whenever they do, you can look at this and it can help make you feel better.” I felt okay about that SO, but it wasn’t phenomenal. I was wondering if maybe I wasn’t doing something right.

But then, this morning happened. I entered the 2 train at 72nd Street, and grabbed onto the middle pole. The train was crowded, with many people standing, but it wasn’t packed, certainly no one was squished into the car or holding a flat palm against the ceiling in the hopes of anchoring themselves. A woman got on and was holding onto the pole near the seats and a man got on behind her. There was plenty of room for him to hold onto that pole, or the pole to which I was attached, or the pole to the left of him. For whatever reason, though, he thought this woman should have moved so he could get further into the train and could hold onto a pole on the opposite side of the car. He was curmudgeon-y (though not all that old) and kept mumble-yelling at her. I couldn’t hear what he actually said. She was able to move and he pushed through, knocking her into the walls of the train car and he moved through and away. Another young man and I tried to chuckle with her and roll our eyes at the nerve of people on the subway to kind of make it all better. “It’s just been that kind of morning,” the woman said. “Well,” I said, reaching into my bag and pulling out a Smile Card, “maybe this can help make it a little better.” The woman was visibly moved. She showed it to the man, and I reached in and grabbed one for him as well. He said he was going to get some to give to all of his friends. She said she was going to buy them right away. They were both so excited about helpothers.org. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” she said, and she hugged me. A random person hugged me. On the 2 train. In New York City. I didn’t pay her bills or give her food or shelter or clothing. I didn’t do anything to change the problems in her life, or eliminate them in any way. And yet, she told me it made her day. Which of course, made mine.


mammabear said...

Wow, what a great inspriration for doing the right thing. It really does make you feel good to make someone happy. I have never heard of smiley cards so I will check them out. See, it continues to spread.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story!