Friday, February 1, 2008

Kindness of strangers

I have to say that although I find Americans nice and generous, New Yorkers are completely different story. I have experienced complete indifference many, many times while pregnant, when no one on a subway would give up their seat. Later on I found that people of New York have even less sympathy for a woman with a stroller, and a woman with a double stroller trying to get in or out of the store is more likely to elicit impatient grunts than help.

All of my negative views on New Yorkers changed today. Almost... I had to run several errands and took the kids with me. They behaved exceptionally well; their stroller, however, was giving me some trouble with the narrow doorways. For those of you who never had to open the door while trying to roll the stroller inside, the best strategy is to open or hold the door by leaning on it with you back and wheel the kids in backwards. There's a chance of bumping into someone while doing it because they still haven't figured out how to place an extra pair of eyes on the back of your head, but frankly choices in this situation are very limited. Unless someone offers to hold the door for you, which doesn't happen often.

Today's trip didn't promise to be very different. When I wheeled the kids into the liquor store, I got a few funny looks from passerbys. They read, "She should be reported to social services" or "I wish my parent would let me drink when I was three", but no offers of help. When inside, to my amazement, some customer actually cleared out a few boxes in a relatively secluded area to allow me to park the stroller. That NEVER happened before, NEVER. Then when I was leaving, someone else actually held the door for me. I got lucky, twice in one day! Maybe it had something to do with being in a liquor store. My faith in New Yorkers was slowly restoring.

Then we went to the bank (no help), then - to the bakery (also no help) where both kids got cupcakes for their good behavior and patience. And then we went to a candy/dry fruit store. That was the last and the most challenging stop because a) the store has two steps in front of it and the door has to be pulled, which created and extra inconvenience; b) we had to rush because hubby was waiting in a car, and c) I BROUGHT TWO SUGAR OBSESSSED TODDLERS TO A CANDY STORE. Surprisingly kids didn't create a scene. I quickly made my selections, paid, and started working out the exit strategy. I was leaning on the door with my back trying to figure out how to wheel down the stroller from the two steps when I felt someone holding the door for me.

OMG!!!! I couldn't believe it, third time this day. I make this errand trip about once a month, and I never was so lucky! While I was having these thoughts simultaneously trying to bring down the stroller and thanking that kind stranger, this great man grabbed my stroller and helped me carry it down the steps. I was so grateful and overwhelmed with his kindness to a total stranger! When the stroller was safely down, I no longer had to walk backwards and was finally able face that wonderful man - and a stranger he was not. It was my hubby who lost any hope of us ever getting out of the candy store. Truth be told he actually did come to help me.

So while my faith in the citizens of this city didn't improve greatly, I can at least count on one New Yorker to come to my rescue!

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