Friday morning I was on my way to work. I was on the 1 train heading downtown, when I noticed this elderly man showing a business card to another man who could not understand the man’s request. The elderly man spoke only Polish with tiny spats of English and the other man only Spanish. Sensing their struggle I jumped in and tried to help as best I could. It seems this little old man was on his way to an appointment in Brooklyn to which he had no idea how to arrive to.
He was to make his way to Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn but I didn’t know the first about getting there, so I gave him a sorry look and tried to communicate I could not help him. I kept thinking to myself, how could this little old man get on the train all his lonesome self not knowing where to go? Where was his family, a concerned neighbor, or anyone else who knew him well enough to at least scribble down some directions?
As soon as we reached the above-ground station at 125th street, I immediately used my phone to find directions for his ride. A woman sitting nearby took out her notebook and passed it to me so I could jot down which trains and stops he needed to get off at. He would need to take the A train on 59th street. Thankfully the woman, who only spoke Spanish as well, but also very willing to help in any way, offered to get him on the A train. She would only be able to get him on the A, and then he would need to get to 14th street, get off, transfer to the L and get to Bedford Ave in Brooklyn on his own.
I wanted so badly to ditch my job to take him all the way. Instead, I said a little prayer, and hoped he’d make it to his appointment and back home okay. It really hit me how important it is to offer help no matter how little. So many times, especially in busy cities like NYC, we want to help someone in need, but we feel our help may not make a difference. It’s not too little or helpless.
Our help–it makes a difference.