The Joy in Helping

Today, I found myself contemplating how we help each other. It wasn’t work that inspired the thought. It wasn’t the news. I saw a few friends talking with each other on the train. I didn’t listen in that intensely, so I can’t recall to you now what was being discussed. However, in the midst of their discussion, someone dropped an item out of their bag. Without missing a beat, the women closest to the man walking by reached down, picked up the item and gave it back to him. A few kind words were exchanged and she went right back to her conversation.

I’m on one of my usual routes to work. As I cross a particular bridge, there are a series of homeless men and women asking for change. I can think of four people I greet every morning. There’s a fifth I only see in the evenings. This fifth person, an older gentleman, has a particular corner he stands at. For any regular commuter on this street, we all know when we’ll find him there.

Now, every so often, there will be someone fundraising and/or passing out free samples to people. It never stops making my heart cringe when people who outright ignore him half a second later are greeting the other person to ask about the fundraiser or take the samples. I’m not here to dictate what any one does at this point. It’s just an observation. Stick to your own comfort level.

A few of the elevators in my building close notoriously fast. Sometimes you are barely getting your foot in the door before they shut you in. One other elevator seems to have a 98 second wait time no matter how many times you press “door close”. It seems to be an even split among the employees who work at and/or in the building who hold the doors accordingly. I know I’ve had days where that awkward “doors 95% closed as we make eye contact” moment happens. Yeah. No so awesome.

Thank you to the commuters who always take part in the “no, you go first” tradition of getting into the vestibule. Your courtesy almost makes me forget about those who get in on one side just to force their way in the opposite direction…This is a positive post, so I won’t let that tangent live.

Helping is funny business. Those that are great at it seem to be conscious of it the least. Helping also doesn’t have a required quota. It’s circumstantial, or seems that way, depending on how you look at it. Some days, in trying to help one person we unknowingly make it more difficult for others. We don’t always ask for it, but there’s always at least one thing that could use it in our day.

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