Subway…Grand Central Station…rush hour
I stand on the packed platform with those going home, awaiting the express. There’s a tall, hefty hardhat next to me armed with a huge toolbox, ready to board.
We’re like horses at the starting gate determined to get a seat.
As the doors fly open, we stand to the side like you’re supposed to, to let those off, unlike others not as polite.
As we finally enter the car, all seats are now taken.
“We weren’t fast enough,” I say, taking it better than him only facing two stops, seeing he’s visibly disappointed having to stand, probably going to the Bronx, exhausted after putting in a long, hard day.
Suddenly a robust, flamboyant, young man sails across the car due to a jolt, falling into a seated Latino girl with dreds and a nose ring, who to her credit, doesn’t kill him.
Imagine Jackie Gleason shot out of a cannon, in Chanel.
Everyone grins despite Jackie’s embarrassment, but hardhat, who grabs his arm while gallantly suppressing a smile the guy gratefully sees.
So what do we know about this 40ish, fit, man-of-color? He’s hard working, polite and chivalrous, with a sense of propriety, and good humor.
We like him, so as the car settles back in, I remember having two bottles of Poland Spring in my bag, offering him one.
He takes it graciously as I toast him with mine.
As I’m about to get off along with Jackie who’s now composed with fresh lipstick, he gently touches my elbow causing me to turn and says, “Thanks Miss., be safe…have a good night.”
The upside of a random act of kindness is, you get to bask in the receiver’s light even though nothing has changed since, he’s still leaning against the door, his toolbox between his feet one of them is now resting on.
Yet you feel the shift. Jackie’s from not being overtly laughed at, and his being noticed as the dignified man that he is.
As for me?
Receiving is in the giving remember, so as I make my way home, spirits happily heightened, I find myself humming, clickin’ up my high heels.