This morning I sat waiting for the bus in the Korenmarkt after dropping my son off at school. An old man was shuffling through the street with his cane. When he came to the curb, his steps got shorter and more agitated. He clearly could not step up onto it, and so he started to shuffle along it. As he jerked along, one of the trams approached. The man was walking, slowly, right where the tram would be stopping, and it was coming much faster than he was moving. The woman next to me, rocking her stroller, looked alarmed, and I’m sure I did, too, as I looked from the man to the tram driver, hoping he would slow down. Before I could do much more than that, a young man with a shaved head, dressed all in black, stepped over to the old man. He put one arm around his shoulder and the other under his arm and spoke to him calmly, reassuringly. As soon as he touched him, the stuttering movements smoothed, and the old man’s gait relaxed, became normal, borrowing strength and assurance. The young man helped him past the curb and let him on his way before turning back to wait for his bus. The tram pulled up, covering the space of the little drama.
I was so touched to see this bit of humanity, this respect and consideration for the stranger. It is one reason I love living in a city: where we are all so close together, we have more opportunity to exercise and witness kindness.
Thanks for this.
I miss working at a hospital, where I could help people find where they had parked their car, or show them the cafeteria or whatever.
This used to be the kind of behavior that was expected as part of our civility.
I love having my a priori assumptions / expectations thrown in my face like this.
While in Europe recently with my wife, she slipped and fell as we entered a bank. A young man stepped up to her and assisted her in getting up. Traveling with luggage can be hard as some train stations don’t have ramps only stairs to drag luggage up and down. In each of the five countries we visited the young people assisted my wife with her luggage getting on and off the trains (that wait for no one. They stop for only about three minutes and then take off even if people are boarding). Hurrah for milenials!
Thank you for these comments. I’m currently living and working in Beijing. Nearing 60, I’m touched by the warmth and helpfulness of those under the age of 30 around here. There’s always someone willing to help. It’s heart warming and silences the silly notions held by so many my age and older that the “rising generation” is a mess. My experience has been the opposite, wherever I live.