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The strangeness of kinders…

By December 4, 2009February 6th, 2010How To

The New York City Edition

nyc cab

It was 5:00 on Tuesday night. I’d had a lunch meeting, then spent a bit of time strolling around the West Village (where I just so happened to see Jude Law and stalked him for about a block until he disappeared into a church with an automatic, sliding, red door that seemed to suck him inside happily – but that’s a whole ‘nother post), found a gloriously cozy spot for tea and catching up on email – and then headed out into a biting wind to catch a cab and head off to the #140conf event.

As I stepped off the sidewalk, I noticed a woman standing up the street from me, about 20 feet or so – it was totally unclear if she was also trying to get a cab (really, unless she was trying to catch the cab with her hips and not her outstretched arm), so I stuck my hand out. At which point she said, quite merrily, “Hey! I’m trying to catch a cab here!” I walked up to her and apologized, telling her that I honestly couldn’t tell. She smiled big and said, “No problem!” And I asked her a question about where I was going. We got to talking, realized her stop was en route to mine and decided two was better than one. We set to work getting this cab together, and it happened in no time.

When we got to her stop, she started to pull out her wallet. And I said, “Let me just take care of it…” She was a big woman and she grabbed me and gave me such a huge hug it nearly knocked the wind out of me. She said ‘Thank You!!!’ over and over and wished me the happiest Christmas. She was overjoyed, elated, kept repeating, “Are you serious?!” You’d have thought I’d bought her the cab, not just a five minute ride in it.

The meter at her stop read $3.70.

Wednesday morning I was sitting at a little organic cafe/market on the Lower East Side working away on my laptop when the (I’m guessing) 22 year-old boy to my right got a phone call. I tried my darndest to keep my eyes and attention focused on my screen, but it was nearly impossible not to listen to his conversation, as he unabashedly chewed some poor soul out with the most vile words, passion and flair that I’ve possibly ever heard.

I attempted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, maybe the person on the other end of the line was really that stupid, pathetic and wrong. Maybe. Mostly, I thought about how glad I was that I didn’t know him. I created a story about the sadness and misery this young man must have in his life – the unhappiness was just rolling off of his self in waves. To talk to anyone like that, it had to be.

I hadn’t made eye contact with him, and I had no reason to think that he knew I even existed, but then, about 10 minutes after he got off the phone, he turned to me with sweet brown eyes and in the kindest, softest voice said, “I’m so sorry about that phone call. I’m just so upset right now, and I’m trying to get home.”

I’m glad to say that I didn’t hesitate, nor did I even remember how horrid I thought he was, I just launched into a wonderful conversation about where home was (California), what he does for work (personal trainer specializing in ninja classes), and why it’s been so hard to get home (in London modeling for several years, now nesting in the City…and money – or the shortage of it).

He was a delight and I have no idea who he was talking to on the phone…the call wasn’t mentioned again, and he left with a smile on his face, telling me that he hoped to see me in ninja class soon.

Wednesday night, due to a rabidly gone-wrong case of ‘the best laid plans’, I ended up having dinner alone. Which honestly was fine because I was wiped from a long few days. I sat at the bar of this perfect little French bistro and people cycled on and off the stools beside me as they came in, ordered wine and were eventually seated. One young couple sat down and the male half made some conversation with me, quite sweetly, until they were ushered to their table by the restaurant’s entrance.

Maybe he saw the deep breath I pulled in as I braced myself to go out, once again, into the rain. Maybe he heard the sliver of sadness humming in my chest. I don’t know. But as I stepped past him and reached for the door, he reached for my hand and held it – for a full, warm moment – before I stepped out into the wet, windy night.

Image credit: ajagendorf25

Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Andi says:

    It’s all the sucking – good people draw good people to them. At their core, kind people will always display kindness no matter what obstacle might push them off the well-intentioned path. The 3 connections you made sound wonderful and heart-warming in a world where there are so many bad, unkind, un-friendly possible connections. I tell you, it’s the suck.

  • Julie Roads says:

    I love that perspective, Andi! Yes. Viva la suck!

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    I’m so cynical that I kept waiting for you to say that you realized that the woman who’d hugged you in the cab had pick-pocketed your wallet and that you saw the Ninja’s photo when you went to the post office and took in the “10 most wanted” poster… I’m glad the strangers were truly kind, and that you were in return.

  • Michael T. Rose says:

    wait, you’re in town?

  • Julie Roads says:

    Alisa, Alisa, Alisa. Only you, my dear, only you.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Mike! Was in town. Was. You and I need to do this better…seriously pathetic. Will be back in a couple of weeks. Let’s make it happen.

  • Michael T. Rose says:


    Just as well, I was working until 2am all week.

  • Anne says:

    I try to make a point to smile at people and put myself out there (even though I’m an introvert) because I know that there are a lot of people out there hurting (hey, I’m one of them!)

    They say you will always get back more than you give. I don’t believe that (at least not in this life) – but that shouldn’t be our motivation for giving.

    I am glad you had those opportunities to give and receive. And I enjoyed reading your blog (for the first time!)

  • Julie Roads says:

    Welcome, Anne! I agree – smiling at other people is a great thing to do…you really never know when that small twitch of your lips makes a huge difference.

  • Anne says:

    Thanks for the welcome, Julie. And now I’m following you on Twitter too. See you there.

  • Candice says:

    That last one was amazing. It’s funny because I wrote a piece just like this today (…it’s all about the little things!

  • Dawn says:

    Heya. I wish a) that I’d been nudged to read your blog sooner and b) that I had run into you in Jason’s garage this summer (I was working for him and staying in his extra room). I just knew of you as “the woman who ‘broke’ the garage door” ;) This is fabulous writing and a wonderful post.

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