Every so often we have an experience that reminds us we are alive, that we are grateful, and that as human beings, there really is more than “the hustle” we’ve conditioned ourselves to think is the only measure of our success.
I had an experience like this recently.
Just before I went down the stairs into the subway, I saw a woman with four little kids, probably ranging from 3-11 years old. They each had a backpack and a rolling suitcase with a pillow and the woman (who I’m assuming was their mom) had a huge suitcase with her, trying to get situated so they could walk down the stairs. She looked super stressed out.
Typically I would have probably just kept moving, but I think it was the adorable Dora the Explorer backpack that made my intuition vocalize, “Do you guys need some help?”.
Immediately the woman’s shoulders relaxed and her eyes got watery, “Would you?” she said. “If you could just help him down the stairs?”
I extended my hand to the adorable little boy who immediately burst into tears and ran away from me. I tried for the next oldest kid and said, “Hey can I help you carry your Cars suitcase? I really liked that movie!” and this time he accepted my hand.
When we got to the bottom of the stairs the mother said, “Oh no, this isn’t right, I need to go to Brooklyn”. “No problem” I said, “that’s just across the street – I’ll show you” and the crew headed back up the stairs.
After a few more minutes she realized that it wasn’t the right train line at all and that the correct one was more than a 5 minute walk away. “Do you think a cab to Brooklyn would be more than $50?” she asked me. I assured her she should be okay and , I went into the street to hail them a cab.
The first man who stopped refused to take them, saying that they were too many and had too much stuff. Frustrated that I had left my wallet at home and didn’t want to just leave them stranded, I realizedI could use my Uber app and they would take them no problem.
I “called” and the (very friendly) driver came within 5 minutes and helped the family load into the car.
After they all got in and the oldest son had thanked me over and over, I gave the woman a hug and said, “This ride is on me, you guys just get there safe.” Almost immediately both of our eyes filled with tears and she insisted it wasn’t necessary. She sent me off with a thank you and a blessing.
As I waved goodbye and watched them drive away, my body was filled with this feeling I can’t quite explain in any way other than joy. And thank god I’ve learned to embrace the fact that I cry the instant my body feels joy (whether it’s a movie, watching someone sing or perform, and yes, even in a Zumba class once) I happily teared up on the subway alone at 10pm on a Thursday.
I didn’t care that I would never see the family again, that I didn’t even know their names, or that my mint.com account would now read “over budget” because of this uncalculated “expense” (which actually ended up only being $31.00).
I don’t know their story or where they were going – all I saw was a woman who had so much love for these adorable children who each had new backpacks and wheely-suitcases while hers was old and torn.
A woman taking care of them on their own and her oldest son who saw how much she was struggling and was staying strong for her.
That night, something in my gut pulled me to stop and say something. A two second feeling that our minds so often overlook and we just keep walking when we know we could help, or rationalize that someone else will stop to help them.
There have been so many times that I’ve felt a pull to stop and say something to someone, to do something that feels a bit weird or scary and ignored it. (Even as I was writing this in my local cafe, my gut told me to ask the guy next to me if he wanted to borrow my computer charger and I ignored it, so he left and walked home to get his and came all the way back. Sigh – still learning!)
But the times I LISTENED: when my gut told me to apply for a coaching program that led me to a life-changing job; when I went on a date with a really nice guy who I couldn’t explain what was wrong with him other than “something just doesn’t feel right; when it told me to email a woman I’ve never met and ask her if she’d be up for mentoring me, and she said yes.
It is never wrong – and listening serves EVERYONE involved.
When you listen to that unexplainable pull, it starts to become more explainable.
When you listen to it, it is always LOVE.
And at the same time that there are millions of people being killed all over the world, thousands of injustices every day that freak us out and make us wonder why we are so “lucky”, there are still millions of us here who can make one small decision to listen to that love and make a difference.
P.S. That night I was so excited about the experience that I actually wrote an Uber review for once. The wrote back a week or so later with this note. Thank you Uber!
**Hey, just FYI – Uber didn’t pay me to write or share this, and I know there is a lot of controversy around Uber in certain cities and what not. But they’re pretty great when they need to be too**