On the subway this morning, I noticed a wet, tired-looking young mother with a toddler in a clunky stroller hustle onto the train with bags and umbrellas in tow. Straining her eyes at the subway map on the wall, she realized that she was going the wrong way, and became visibly distressed. A well-dressed businessman nearby asked where she was going and described how to get there from where we were, which involved taking the train in the opposite direction. Noting her large stroller, multiple bags, and yawning toddler, he added, "There isn't an elevator at the stop where you need to get off to change trains. I'll come with you and carry your stroller up the stairs and down again on the other side, where you'll find the train going in the right direction."
It was a small gesture, wouldn't take the man more than 5 minutes, but the relief and thankfulness on the woman's face and change in her demeanor was palpable. They got off at the next stop and I watched as the man shouldered her bags and lifted the stroller to climb the stairs while the young woman followed, with a look on her face of pure gratitude. I wrote this down then and there to remind myself to be aware of times when the smallest act of kindness, which I'm often too busy or distracted to offer, could make a world of difference for someone else.
-- By Ariel Maile Adkins