Unexpected Acts of Kindness

New York City is a flavorful, eclectic, and a vibrant city. There are two perceptions people have about NYC…they love it or they hate it? After living in NYC for 16 years, I still don’t call myself a New Yorker, but I do love living here. I’m not sure exactly why I have yet to convert. Maybe there is a small part of me holding on to the warm months back in Arizona or maybe part of me misses the easygoing flow of life.  

If anyone has ever lived in NYC, you would know that New Yorkers can be tough, rough, and direct. New Yorkers are definitely misunderstood. Under those hard layers, there is kindness and a unique connection. I decided to slow down, reflect, and attempt to see all the small acts of kindness that impact lives in the big city. Most recently a random lady, a cab driver, and a coffee truck man all stepped into my life at the right moment. Here are a few events over the course of a week:

Saturday Afternoon 1:35

Walking down a street in New York City is at times like dodging bullets. That is to be expected. What is not typically expected is when strange objects fall from buildings and happen to land on your child’s head. True story. One afternoon walking down the street a metal vacuum cleaner attachment fell from the sky and hit my son right on top of his head. I know what you might be thinking…seriously? Yes, I’m serious. It fell from the sky, hit my son, and blood poured down from his head. As I tried to figure out if my son hit himself with something or if something really did fall from the sky, a woman out of nowhere tapped my shoulder, “Are you okay? Let me help you. What do you need?” She didn’t wait for my response. The lady ran into the Chinese restaurant and came back with handfuls of napkins. With all the anxiety running through me as I held my terrified son, this random woman’s quick thinking and kindness brought a little peace during a terrifying event. My son is still wondering about the “kind lady” who helped with the napkins.

Friday Night 6:45

Work, life, and the sleepless nights of watching our son heal made for an exhausting week, so my husband and I decided we needed a date night. Anyone who has tried to hail a cab when the wind chill is in the teens understands that this is not fun. After many attempts, a cab driver pulled over to pick up my husband and I. As soon as we jumped in and told the driver our destination, he turned around, smiled, and asked if we wanted to hear a funny.  Now, this is New York; a funny, a joke, do we dare? We were feeling like we needed a laugh, if not, at least we would have a good story to tell about a crazy cab driver. The driver proceeded to tell us this crazy joke about parrots and people. My husband and I glanced over and exchange the look of, “Is this really happening?” It was. The best part is that this random cab driver had my husband and I laughing so hard that I almost peed my pants. After all, that good laugh came at the right time and the stress of the week seemed to disappear.

Monday Morning 7:42

The man who runs the coffee cart on the corner of 56th and 3rd famous for remembering who you are and your order. His claim to fame is more than just knowing an order, he knows people. Anyone at school holding a cup of his coffee or tea has a warm smile on their face and appears relaxed…pure magic. One might wonder what secret ingredient he puts in this coffee, so I decided it would be a good idea to see what this coffee truck was all about and grab a sip of magic. As I waited in line, I overheard the coffee man talking to a customer, “Hey Dan. How are the kids? Work going okay? Great to see you. Take care of yourself.” Dan walked away with a coffee, bagel, and a smile. Okay, my turn. The coffee man made eye contact and said, “You look like you need a hot tea. What kind do you want and how do you like it?” Wait a minute. Is this coffee guy a mind reader or does he just make fantastic hot beverages? As I gathered my words, “Um? Um?  Hot mint tea, please. Plain.”  As the coffee man grabbed a cup, poured the hot water, he smiled and said, “See, I knew you wanted tea. Mint tea is calming.” Stunned, I placed my $1.25 under the glass paperweight smiled and thanked him. As I walked away the coffee man said, “Things happen. Have a great day.” Magic. Pure magic.

One crazy city full of millions of people beyond the hustle and bustle there were total strangers all connected through simple acts of kindness. Now that’s magic.


6 thoughts on “Unexpected Acts of Kindness

  1. These are MAGICAL NYC stories. Each one! I love how you bundled them in a collection… they fit together so well. I don’t love NYC but lived in Chicago for 20 years and totally understand that “make a big city a small city” space with relationships. Most of all — hope your kiddo is OK!!!


  2. Love these stories, Tiana… they are all seemingly random but what I love about them is that in a city of millions that there are these moments of genuine human connection that can make all the difference, especially today. 🙂 I can’t believe that one about your son! But what a beautiful act of kindness – a deliberate act of kindness. Also, maybe next time I’m in NYC, I’ll have to track down that coffee cart guy. 🙂


  3. It’s funny… I grew up in NYC, and while there are many reasons I was so ready to leave, there are certain things that are just in my blood. Walking down a crowded street, I have always loved that feeling of dodging bullets… all the people in every direction, yet anonymity in it all. My wife laughs at me every time we walk the streets of NYC… she can feel the New York walk coming on!


  4. I love random acts of kindness and I think this is wonderful that you found them in NYC. I live in Rockville Centre but grew up in Syracuse. When I first moved to Long Beach, I was so shocked by the lifestyle that was so different than where I came from. Once I moved to RVC, I felt at home and made so many friends that kindness acts were common.


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