Some fascinating results have been reported in the Girl Game Spring Challenge. I’ve been amazed by the power of a friendly remark to strike a spark between two people who would otherwise never have met. The other day SayWhaat shared a story that a lot of us found very moving, and today Buena Vista, a new reader, replied with an equally moving story.
Neither is about getting somewhere with the opposite sex. Just human beings showing generosity and decency. We have so much to learn from one another!
“I was riding the subway home and across from me was a young guy slouching and being surly. He had a scar on the side of his face, had cubic zirconium earrings, everything – he looked a bit scary.
Normally, I would have avoided eye contact at all costs, like I usually do on the subway. But I looked at him and I noticed that his eyes were red. My first thought was, “ugh, of course. He’s stoned on the subway.” Then I noticed that he kept rubbing them. A second later I realized that he was crying.
I suddenly felt so awkward that I had noticed this. What do you do when you notice some random stranger is in pain? I could tell he noticed that I noticed too, because he lowered his head and started wiping away his tears more frequently.
We passed another couple of stops before I finally gathered courage. The guy next to him was sitting spread-eagled and taking up the rest of the whole seat, so I got up, went over, said “excuse me” and sat down right between them. Then I reached into my purse and took out a pack of tissues and handed it to the Ghetto Kid.
I could tell the whole subway car was surprised at what just happened but I ignored it all and just asked the Kid if he was okay. He said, “well, I feel better now!” Turns out his girlfriend had cheated on him and he was trying to cope with it. I told him I was sorry to hear that, and that there were better people out there. We had a brief conversation about relationships. He was graduating community college in a month.
Then the conversation turned to my relationships and he started asking if I was married or single, and how old I was, and I started feeling awkward again. Haha..oops. Should have seen that coming. When we got off at the same stop, he asked if we could keep talking but I told him that I had to catch another train (which was true). And I told him to take care, and that was that.
I felt good about that interaction. I realized that I felt so much…I dunno, softer, after doing something as simple as reaching out to someone in a moment of vulnerability and making them feel okay. I had a rough week myself (been so overworked) but I realized that there’s a certain strength to be found in reaching out and supporting someone else. Even if it’s someone who looks tough. Even if it’s someone you don’t know.”
“SayWhaat, that’s probably the first time in that guy’s entire existence a woman showed him a little compassion, and closing the interaction so elegantly (without saying “ew gross what a perv”) is probably what he’ll remember for the rest of his life, as well.
I’m always emotionally wrecked for a couple days, after the fraud that the family courts call “parental visitation.” So I’d dropped off my son with his mother, and was driving the 250 mile exercise in anxiety and remorse, back to my home. (She moved away, of course, as soon as I agreed to her getting physical custody.) I’m a guy in a suit, driving a Porsche, crying like a little boy half the way down the NJ Turnpike. Pathetic. Probably dangerous too, I’m so distracted. I decide it’s time to break the spell, I clean up and stop for gas. Buying my coffee, a weary overweight young woman at the counter, looks at me and says, “Are you all right? Are you having a bad day?”
I was speechless. I still shake, writing this, remembering the moment. I couldn’t talk then. I walked out to my car and stood there. I went back inside. I said,
“You’re an angel, thank you.”
“I’m pulling back to back 16 hour days. But you looked like you could use a kind word.”
There’s only one reason someone works 16-hour days in a convenience store on the interstate: she needs the dough to take care of someone, someone she can’t be with because she is working 16-hour days. I shook my head.
Now I couldn’t talk again. And just said, “You’re an angel.” I meant it. I’m 55. First time that happened to me in my life. Never forget it. A kind word can reverberate for decades.”