Living in New York as I do, and not being in the elite one percent, I spend a lot of time on the subway. A person could in theory buy an unlimited weekly metrocard (a plastic card that allows you to travel on the bus, subway, and Roosevelt Island tram) and go to all five boroughs, visiting hundreds of locations for thirty one dollars.
You learn a lot about people on the subway — rather, you can choose to learn a lot if you pay attention, something that just about everyone can afford to do if they want. Much of the lessons learnable on the train come down to perspective, however.
It is far too often that we see people that are less fortunate than we on the train and in train stations. It is not too difficult to discern that a person doesn’t really have anywhere to go but the street when they have their entire set of worldly belongings with them, and appear to be wearing multiple layers of clothing as though this were the most convenient way to keep it with them — and sometimes, it sadly is.
Some may look at such a person and react with a look of disgust, thinking poorly of the person. Others would look at the same person and think more introspectively. What have I got, they might think. Am I grateful for what I have? Am I as secure as I think?
On a field trip in high school we went to the cloisters in New York and a woman asked me for change – anything would help. All I had was a dime and she was quite grateful — it was 1994, I believe. She said to me to always be kind to those in need, as I would never know when I might end up being the needy one.
I’ve remembered her words and try to help when I can.