Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open.

~ John Barrymore ~

Kind? You Kidding? New Yorker’s are Rude Right?

September 20th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 17 secs

Kind New Yorker takes her dog Ruby out in the Manhattan snow because Ruby loves it!

C’mon, be honest. Put your hand up if you think New Yorkers are rude. We’ve heard so many things about what they’re like on the street. So it was especially interesting for us to get to meet a few New York natives in their natural habitat early this year. Just for a brief taste of life in the Big Apple.

We arrived at La Guardia Airport just before the Christmas blizzard and, though it was cold and raining outside, inside it felt like the building equivalent of a stale armpit. Holiday crowds packed every square inch. But though it was hot, squashy, and steamy there was a still a surprising kind of orderliness to the chaos.

Outside the city had twenty-four hours left before the blizzard would bring the entire city to a snowy standstill.

We stayed in Brooklyn and I think we were the only vacationers in the neighborhood. But aside from folk looking at us like “Where on Earth have you come from?” everybody was fine. More than that, it was fun. Nearly every time we smiled and said hello, people smiled back. Though our landlord cautioned us about going out and about, especially at night, we had no problems.

Catching the subway train daily into Manhattan people looked suitably shut down and indifferent.  But that’s pretty typical of most big cities.

The famed New York impatience wasn’t there. People waited, took their turn, and cooperated in that big city distant kind of way.

Whenever we asked people questions or others needed help I noticed little vignettes of kindness. People kept wearing their uninvolved expressions yet went out of their way to help. Beneath the “I’m not available” look the kindness people revealed was remarkable. When somebody dropped their umbrella, another person quickly picked it up and handed it to them without making eye contact.

After the blizzard passed, New York stopped. People tried digging themselves and their cars out. I grabbed a shovel and lent a hand too, which was fun. Again, people went out of their way to help each other and I was touched by the kindness beneath the surface of so many city-hardened folk.

Because it was her birthday, Ruth insisted on catching the subway train to Manhattan. So we braved the drifts to reach the station, where we slid down the snow covered slope that blanketed the entry stairs. The place was empty.

Presently a lady reached the subway entrance above, and gingerly tried to find her footing down. Clutching the handrail tightly, she slipped and panicked. So I clambered up to give her a hand and chip out a few footholds in the snow. Helping her down she was so appreciative she kept on thanking me over and over when all I’d done was help her downstairs. Her kindness and gratitude touched me.

Beneath the “don’t care” exterior, New Yorkers kept revealing an underlying kindness. Now of course there will be many people lacking in any kindness at all. But as a general flavor, New Yorker’s reputation for rudeness is a ruse. Just below is a genuine willingness to be kind by helping and showing profound appreciation for a little bit of effort. They just don’t want to admit it.



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