Civility in the City

New York City often gets a bad rap for being impersonal and unfriendly. The skyscrapers are tall and ominous, the streets are dirty, and the people walk swiftly with their heads tilted downward. However, that does not mean they do not see what is going on around them.KETTLES vu from High Line

On our trip to New York, I noticed several instances when pedestrians actually went out of their way to help or act kindly toward a stranger, whether that was me or someone else. A taxi stopped at a busy intersection to tell a woman she dropped 20 dollars. A homeless man brought an iPhone he found on the street into the nearest store in hopes that they could track down its owner. A man trailed after a young boy in the subway station who was unaware his playing cards were falling out of his backpack onto the ground. An elderly man stopped and asked if I needed help finding a location when I looked confused on the streets. When a group of our phones died at dinner, the host offered to help us call an Uber cab.

As a girl who grew up in a small river town in Missouri and who attends a small liberal arts university in rural Virginia, I am not used to huge cities like New York. I couldn’t believe how many random acts of kindness I witnessed as I walked and experienced the city in just three days. I was pleasantly surprised and almost blown away.

Kettles Times SquareYes, many of the stereotypes about the city seemed true upon arrival. However, when I really stopped to listen and watch people interact, things were different than I imagined. Maybe one just has to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city to really realize what is going on around them. Things aren’t always as bad as they’re made out to be, and you can’t believe everything you hear—a crucial lesson for any journalist.

–Laura Waggener

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