I think New York City gets a bad reputation for being full of rude, cold, busy people, but I know that you will find those people anywhere. On the whole, I’ve actually found New Yorkers to be incredibly friendly and kind. I will never forget the compassion and care that I witnessed on a rainy afternoon this week…
My coworker and I were approaching that mid-afternoon lull and needed to get outside for a breath of fresh air. On our way to Starbucks, we saw a heavy-set, middle aged woman lying flat on her back in the rain on the wet sidewalk of Third Avenue. Then I saw her walker far out of her reach against the building. As we stopped to help this woman to her feet, several other people stopped to help as well. One man threw his nice leather briefcase onto the wet sidewalk to better assist as we tried to lift the woman up. After another man called an EMT to come help, we huddled around her with umbrellas to keep her dry.
We quickly learned that she was intoxicated, had a black eye, and could not stand on her own. We also learned that she was homeless and staying at the women’s shelter on 45th Street. Unfortunately, when you leave the shelter, your bed is given away to someone else, so it was unlikely that she could go back.
While waiting for the EMT to arrive, this woman told all the people huddled around her that we were the best thing to ever happen to her.
After she was taken to the hospital, my coworker and I reflected on what just happened. So many people showered this woman with sincere concern and care while waiting with her for help – in the pouring rain, no less. While it breaks my heart that there are so many people without homes, I am proud to be surrounded by a city of people that cares for its neighbors. This small incident with one person showed me how kind New Yorkers can be, but seeing the out pour of love on a greater scale during and after the hurricane is also incredibly powerful. People everywhere are offering their homes, warm clothes, food, electricity, money, and time to help others who lost so much in the storm.