Surprising love in a city of strangers

Silver doors quickly slide open, and my family and I piled into the subway car with everyone else. All of the seats were taken: It was morning rush hour.

But, our five year old whined, “I waaannt toooo siiiit.”

Mortified, we tried to hush him thoroughly. But before we did, a man in his fifties of a darker hue wearing a baseball cap got up without a word and moved aside. And my son plopped down in his place.

That man stood before me smelling of cigarettes and alcohol, and I wondered what his story was and what caused him to give up his seat to a demanding boy he didn’t even know.

I looked at this man, amazed, and said: “Thank you.” And he glanced at me and nodded with a sense of understanding and then went back to gazing at nothing.

Every time we enter a subway car, what happens is this.

People get up.

Once they see my wife wearing our three-month-old, walking with my five-year-old, they automatically surrender their seats to strangers—to us.

Women, men, young, old, light-skinned or dark, white collared or blue, it doesn’t matter. All rise to the occasion—to this unspoken rule—unspoken but followed.

Love thy neighbor, especially if they are small and helpless, by sacrificing your comfort so they can be comfortable. It’s living art. It’s small but great. It’s humanity shining.

Surprise takes me every time, and I marvel at the generosity of these people in this city. We are strangers, yet we are friends, maybe family. And in that moment we are connected, loving and loved. We are grateful for you.

We love you.

All of you.

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