As the cold weather starts to make its way into the East and the campus begins to don their Uggs and unoriginal black Northface jackets, I often find myself feeling gloomy. With every dark day, it’s easy to forget how sunny the world can be. Whenever I feel this way, I like to think of one eventful and eye-opening day that I had this summer—a day that featured the kindness and generosity of many of Westchester’s very own. On this hazy October weekend, I’d like to share the following story with you:
My tale starts off as most normal stories do- this particular Thursday morning I couldn’t find my keys. After a few minutes of frantic shuffling, I grabbed my spare set and drove to the train in desperate hope to get to my internship in the city on time. About 10 minutes into the train ride, I realized why I didn’t have my keys; they were attached to my wallet, which was still sitting on my dresser at home. The wallet had all my money, ID, credit and debit cards and train ticket in it, meaning that I was on a train that I didn’t have a ticket or cash to pay for, had no way to get home, and had no breakfast or lunch for the day. Happy Thursday.
So, I have the reasonable reaction– I panic. I imagine myself being thrown off the train in Harlem, walking several hundred blocks and arriving at work hours late. Following this, I get fired and end up living with my parents forever. I die alone.
This is when the conductor comes over and I tell him like it is: “I forgot my wallet and I’m not really sure what to do.” To my surprise, he smiled at me and says, “I see you every Thursday and Friday and you always say hi and bye, so I recognize you and know that you have a monthly pass. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I am pretty sure he was unaware that he just saved me from dying alone.
I turned to the couple next to me and casually commented to them that “being nice always pays you back at some point.” We started talking about a time the man lost his wallet and someone mailed it back, but it was missing all the cash. (Not as nice, but that’s the big city for ya.) As I’m getting off the train, the lady tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a $10 bill. I gracefully refused it, but she insisted that I kept it. “No, no, no. I noticed you didn’t bring a lunch. We sit in the same place every day- you can pay us back some other time.”
I contemplated these kindnesses as I walked a few blocks to my office building. When I greeted the security guards at the desk, I told them that I forgot my wallet and didn’t have my ID to swipe into the building. They said “Ms. Ellen, we know who you are! You say 'wuddup' every day. Now you have a good one, ya hear!” They saluted me as I gazed at them with astonishment and made my way to the elevator. How many breaks can one girl catch?
Upon hearing my predicament, my co-worker offered me $30 for lunch and the train ride home. I reluctantly borrowed $20 for the train ride and told her the story about my lunch money. I told her I could write her a check today, because that’s all I have on me and she responded with “Oh my gosh, PLEASE don’t worry.”
And you know what? I didn’t worry, because my mom was right all along (and I’m confident enough to say it in print, despite the “told ya so” that I will certainly get.) She always told me that “the good you do comes back to you, often 10-fold.” That Thursday was proof that sometimes the worst situations turn out for the best, simply because you indeed get a return on small kindnesses you have shown to others. That day completely reestablished my faith in people and my opinion that even if people don’t say it, they appreciate being noticed every day, even if it’s just by saying hi and bye. Make sure to thank someone today for the nice things that they do. Chances are, your kindness will spread from your hometown all the way to some college kid in Pennsylvania… and she’ll be very thankful.
Ellen Ring is a Yorktown native finishing her senior year at Villanova University where she is pursuing degrees in English, Chinese and Writing and Rhetoric. She is looking forward to attending law school next fall and providing her readers with her great college tales in the meantime.