Monday, May 4, 2009

Is Helping So Hard?

I'm sad that my latest blog inspiration had to be what it is. But I need to say this.

Is it really so hard for us to help people when they need it? I like to think that, despite my flaws, deep down, I'm a good person. We can't all help everyone all the time, but I can't get over the amount of people who ignore someone that obviously needs a simple favor.

I'm not talking about clothing and feeding every homeless person you find on the street, or adopting every child who is trapped in a foster home. I'm talking about simple, little things that every human being is capable of doing if they would just be willing to expend an ounce of energy to make someone else's life easier.

This was brought on by an experience that I had coming back to my apartment this morning. I was leaving the subway platform and a woman in front of me had presumably her daughter in a stroller, which she had turned backwards and was attempting to lug up the stairs by herself, and was CLEARLY struggling. She was tinier than me, and her daughter (who was ADORABLE) was not an itty bitty newborn. I was one of the last people on the platform, and I watched EVERY OTHER PERSON who had gotten off that train walk by this woman without even glancing in her direction, let alone offering her some help. I asked her if she needed a hand and helped her carry the stroller up the steps. It took me MAYBE ten seconds longer to get up the steps, and the woman was SO appreciative for the help. Could no one else have stopped to help? Not to be sexist, but would it really have killed one of the grown men who went up the stairs right before me to have stopped and helped this woman out?

I see this kind of thing happen all the time. People don't hold doors open for people anymore. They'll let an elevator door slam shut when someone is clearly asking them to hold it. Is that extra 5 seconds really going to matter that much in the long run? Believe me, I run on as tight of a schedule as everybody else, but I don't feel like that gives anyone a right to be rude. If you have to stand there an extra second so the person behind you can grab the door, do it. You would want someone to do the same for you. If there is someone on the bus or train who obviously needs the seat more than you do, get up. It frustrates me to no end when I see an elderly man, or a pregnant woman standing for a long subway ride over a college kid or a healthy adult who clearly does not need the rest as badly. If you see someone struggling to carry something, offer them a hand.

Random acts of kindness shouldn't be so random, and they shouldn't have to seem so few and far between.

Do you think common courtesy is falling by the wayside? Do you think people are generally rude, or generally well mannered? Do you think this is just because I live in Manhattan and we're all assholes here?


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