Ok, I have to admit that I’m jaded. I’m a New Yorker born and raised and growing up in such a big, not always nice, city can make a person a cynic.
So, yesterday afternoon when the young woman on the bike rode up to me and asked me if the building I’d just exited, and was pacing and waiting in front of, was the office she was looking for my inner cynic was wary.
By this time, I had been waiting for over a half hour for my ride** outside of this building that I’d just visited for the first time, since my meeting ran shorter than it was supposed to. And I wasn’t familiar with the area. So I didn’t know if it was the office she was looking for and I told her so. I apologized for not having any information about where she could find what she was looking for. So, she walked away with her bicycle to a shaded area in closer to the entrance of the building and took out her cell phone.
I went back to pacing, mostly because it makes me feel better to move when I’m waiting and it was a lovely, breezy day in the shade of the big trees that lined the sidewalk. As I turned to pace in a different direction, I saw she was walking up to me again.
The NYC cynic’s voice warned me. Of what, exactly? Who knows. That’s just what it does.
“Excuse me,” she began.
I prepared for the cynic’s “uh oh.”
“Do you have a phone I could borrow to call my brother?” she asked gently.
I hesitated for a microsecond. Then I pulled out my phone as she explained that her brother knew the address for the place she was looking for. I asked for the number and dialed it and pushed the speaker button.
My cynic was telling me all kinds of things to be careful of. It reminded me that she had a phone and was using it. It warned me of all the negative posibilities that could arise from her using my phone.
But as we both heard it ringing, I told my cynic to shut up. I felt no ill will from her. She seemed tired from riding her bike, upset that she was at the wrong building, and hopeful that she might be able to reach her brother for directions. I remembered the precept I will be kind to my neighbor and all living things.
The phone rang for a long time. She told me he might not pick up because he worked nights. And then, as if right on cue, a male voice answered the call.
I told my cynic to shut up again and passed her the phone. It was only a phone after all. And wasn’t I practicing the precept I will not worry?
Her brother told her where the building was. She looked to her phone for the maps. And suddenly she realized where she needed to go.
She smiled. After the long mind-numbing meeting I’d just attended, I actually had something to smile about too. That’s what a simple act of kindness does. It makes people feel happy.
She thanked her brother, disconnected the call. Then she passed me back my phone, and thanked me for letting her use it. I said “your welcome” and then wished her luck finding her way. I also told her to have a good day. And she said the same to me.
About a minute later, my friend arrived to pick me up. Sometimes, even when you don’t know why you have to wait and be patient, something happens that answers the why.
**(Earlier this year my former car, after having its alternator die, which killed a not-so-old battery, had to get towed, then after arriving at the auto shop fell off the tow truck, making the already not-so-good transmission die a painful haltingly annoying–literally since starting and driving it meant a lot of starting, bucking and halting–death. So….)