Grab your tissues, kids.
If you’ve ever step foot in the city of New York, you know how rude people are to each other. New Yorkers are seemingly pre-conditioned to hate everyone they come in contact with – especially if that person is homeless. Granted, many of us have experienced our fair share of negative (and sometimes – completely loony) confrontations with the homeless or anyone that gives us the appearance of an undesirable, which has molded the way we react to certain situations. I mean, it’s not exactly fun to be on a crowded train with a mentally disturbed person who smells worse than Times Squares in the summertime shouting obscenities at you.
However, I came across this video from the good folks at Life&Style and that reminded me of a time where a seemingly small act of random kindness made all the difference in a person’s day. I wanted to share this particularly special moment in my life with you all today and hopefully, crack that hard mold that we’ve placed around ourselves while living in this unforgiving city.
Around this time last year, I was employed by certain popular chain of coffee shops, one of which was located in the Union Square section of Manhattan. Fresh out of college (and one amazing trip to Europe), I was hit with one of those harsh realities that most of us post-grads face when return home – the inability to find a job that pertains to our careers with no real direction on where to go next. Desperate for some sort of income, I accepted a job doing work that I never thought would be an option for me; working in the food industry and having to meet the needs of some extremely arrogant people, regardless of how they treated me. It put such a damper on my mood that I became one of those stereotypical New Yorkers; angry at any and everyone for pretty much no reason other than that they were breathing my very tiny space of air. I became an expert in the art of ignoring people and rolling my eyes whenever teenagers twirl on the hand rails on a very crowded rush hour train. Actual anger would fill my soul every night that I came home from work and the bright smile that once occupied my face was now left with a semi-permanent pursed lips.
Girl, the depression was real.
As an employee of the coffee shop, you were able to take home the pastries that weren’t sold at closing time. One night, I was able to make out with a few of my families favorite pastries that they’ve been bugging me to bring home for weeks. That closing day had been a particularly rough one – I had just pulled a double, not to mention that it was Christmas day and the store was out of control busy. I left that night feeling more drained than I’d ever felt in my short stint there. As I walked across the street, I was flagged down by a homeless man that always came into a store to sit in the cafe for hours on end. A man that I would ordinarily shoo away because he would take up space in our ordinarily very busy store.
I heard him flagging me down and initially walked right past him, because I was absolutely not in the mood to hear his voice. After all, I just had someone remove him from the cafe area earlier, why would I want to speak with him now? He must’ve recognized my indifference however, and shouted something that I couldn’t make out. Against my initial judgement, I turned around, ready to snap at any moment and asked him to repeat what he said. “I just wanted to wish a safe and very happy christmas! I see you come into the store every day and I admire how hard you work. You have a nice spirit – don’t let the job take that away from you! I just wanted to tell you that!” I couldn’t believe what I heard – here is a man that I’ve thrown out into the cold on multiple occasions for snooty customers leave a thankless mess. I wanted to hug him, but I’m not a hugger in any sense of the word, so I did the next best thing : give him my loot of pastries. “Thank you so much, but I can’t afford these!”, he said with a huge smile and a few tears falling. I then said to him that they were on the house. He thanked me again and told me that on his honor, he would come back and pay for the pastries – even if I’d gotten them for free. We parted ways and I watched him walk towards a group of people huddled together in the park and distributed the pastries among the group. I heard the group exclaim and wish each other a wonderful Christmas as I walked away; ugly crying at all of the unreal Christmas joy that I had just experienced.
A few days later, my manager came to me and asked me to get rid of the “annoyingly ugly homeless” man taking up space in the cafe. Immediately knowing who he was referring to, I walked over to my new friend and performed our usual routine of me shooing him out. We laughed about it and then all of a sudden, he grabbed my hand and shook it, explaining to me that I had no idea how happy he was to have gotten those pastries from me that night, as it was he was dying to try the pecan tarts and cake pops. When I let go, I opened my hand to see a folded $10 bill in my hand, with a note that said “It’s not much, but use it get your dad the pecan tart – they’re amazing!”. He smiled and wished me a happy new year and left. I vowed to never throw him out of the restaurant again as long as I worked there.
The random acts of kindness that you perform at any given moment can make a profound impact on not just the life of others, but on your life as well. Who would’ve thought that a guy, who has way less than I have ever had, and didn’t owe me a damn thing except for maybe a curse out, would be the one to turn around my way of thinking. From that moment on I promised myself that I would be as kind as possible to those around me, especially the homeless and let go of that genetic behavior us East Coasters have of intense dislike for people we don’t know. Even flashing a smile at someone as you walk past them on a crowded subway can life their spirits in ways that you wouldn’t believe.
You never know how your actions can affect another individual. Though we’re not always conscious of that fact, we all need to do a better job of learning how to be nice to the people around us. Remembering that we’re all human can take you a long way and possibly change your life forever.
Watch this incredibly sweet video from popular pranksters, Ock TV, and see how a pizza and one stranger’s kindness made this homeless man’s day and restore your faith in the human race. For today, at least. You never know – it might inspire you to change your perception too.