The nicest people in the world

October 8, 2013 in Life,New York City,Philosophy,Places

I’ve always been struck at a) how often I manage to lose things and b) how I almost always manage to get them back.

In college, I lost my wallet two times: I put it down while signing a petition in the quad, I stuck it on top of the gas pump after I paid. Each time, it was returned to me with nary a scratch. Well, other than the time I left it on the gas pump and it proceeded to get run over by every single car in the lot. Either way: nothing was stolen. Good people went out of their way to get it back to me.

I always figured it was the nature of living in a small town. A friend left her purse (and my wallet!) in the back of a cab in San Francisco on the eve of New Year’s Eve this year, and I woke up to charges for gas and RedBox on every single one of my credit cards. So I spent my New Year’s Eve morning at the DMV getting a new license and canceling my cards, and I figured my good luck had run out.

I had grand plans last Friday night: bike home after work to meet my super to install a couple of shelves, make a quick dinner, head back into the city to hear Bill Bryson speak. I biked home using CitiBike, New York City’s new bike-share program, called my super only to have him cancel on me, and walked up to my front door…and realized I didn’t have my keys. They weren’t in my bag. I couldn’t have left them at work because I locked the door and I used the CitiBike FOB to bike home.

I called my roommate, and found out she wouldn’t be home until late. I called the drugstore outside of the CitiBike docking station and asked them to check the stations, which they so kindly did. I called my gym to make sure my contact information was up to date in case someone turned in my keys. And then I called two of my closet friends who live in Brooklyn, and asked if I could crash on their couch.

Just as I was settling in with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a season of Sex and the City, I got a call from CitiBike. They gave me the name and the number of the man who had my keys. I called the man, he told me where he was having dinner, and I hopped on the train to go back to Midtown. Man told me that a delivery guy on a bike had biked up to him at a stoplight, and handed him the keys. He called CitiBike, and the rest is history.

I realized I lost my keys around 5:30 p.m. and I had them back in my hands by 8:30 p.m. One of my favorite quotes is from Anne Frank: “In spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart.”

It’s easy to get annoyed with people in New York City, simply because you’re always surrounded by them. They’re loud and they’re brash and everyone is looking out for themselves.  The headlines every day are about murder and rape and burglary and all of the terrible things people do.

But one of my favorite things about living here are the little moments that remind me that people really are good at heart. The incredibly kind man who went through the trouble of getting me my keys back. The smile exchanged with someone on the subway. The person who picks up your scarf and gives it back when you drop it. A door held open, a subway card swipe when you need it, a hug from a stranger (or just a knowing glance and the gift of being left alone) when you’re crying on the street: it’s in those moments that I think that people in New York City might be the nicest people in the world.

  • Ah, this makes me so happy. I’ve had similar things happen to me quite often, almost embarrassingly so–I’m far too careless. It warms my heart with how faith in our humanity. Glad a nice New York gentlemen made sure you got your keys back :)

  • Alyssa

    It’s nice to share the good moments in life – faith in humanity restored!

  • AMEN! New Yorkers have such a bad reputation and although I do come across my fair share of really rude, loud, and disgusting ones, I am still a firm believer that a majority of us are really AWESOME people at heart. I’ve returned iPhones, car keys, wallets (Club Marquee’s proprietor), expensive scarves left at restaurants (when I used to waitress), etc. to their rightful owners. I have unexpectedly received gifts as well for what I’ve done. While I’m on the road and tell people I’m from New York, that I grew up in the Bronx, they can hardly believe how “nice” I am! A little tough and blunt, they always say, but very nice nonetheless.

  • The Wondernuts

    What a heartwarming story. I love reading about people who are just plain human helping others. It puts a little spark in my day. =)

  • Christine

    Love this! Sounds just like me… I’m constantly losing things, but it always ends well thanks to kind, good-hearted people 😀 It drives my mother crazy, haha… Ever since I was a kid she’s been saying, “you have more luck than you deserve!!” when it comes to lost wallets, keys etc 😉

  • I strongly believe that people are good…it’s just like with anything else, you tend to notice or remember the negative of things rather than the good. You could get your wallet returned 10 times but the one time someone used it for Redbox (wtf? At least use it for something good…) would be the time that really stood out!

  • SnarkyNomad

    I saw a recent study where they dropped random wallets in cities all over the world. I think it was a city in India that won. New Delhi, I think. But they only had a small number of trials, so it wasn’t a perfect test, but it was still interesting to see.

  • Jennifer Snyder

    Love, love, love this. I’m so glad everything worked out! On the kindness front: The other day, my husband was in a fender bender during rush hour at an intersection in the Sacramento area. His compact Hyundai was rear-ended by a huge truck at about 30 MPH. He was fine, but his car was a mess and the driver of the truck was acting super strange. A man who wasn’t involved in the accident offered to stick around to wait for the police and act as a witness to the accident. Over an hour later the man had given his statement and went on his way to work (very late, I’m sure). It’s that sort of kindness that warms the heart. I’m SO glad you’re finding those kind, selfless acts in NYC as well.

  • What a great story! A classmate of mine from Mizzou said she dropped her pearl earring on the subway in NYC once and everyone around her helped her look for it until they found it. She even told them it was fake and not to worry about it, but they insisted! Isn’t that sweet?

  • Riana Autumn

    Beautiful story! I’m always struck by how incredibly kind people are in almost every city. One time I got hopelessly lost and frustrated in Barcelona and ended up crying at a metro station. In the course of a few minutes, multiple people stopped to make sure I was okay and offered any help they could. Humanity is kind of beautiful that way.

  • Jenna Ebert

    The Spanish were so kind to me on my recent trip as well! Always offering directions, and usually walking me halfway down the street so I was positive I was going the right way! So sweet!

  • camorose

    Seriously made my day–there are SO many good people in the world!

  • camorose

    So much!

  • camorose

    YES! I’ve gone out of my way when I’ve found keys or bank cards on the ground, and I firmly believe in good karma :)

  • camorose

    Yay! It was too good of a story not to share :)

  • camorose

    Haha sounds so much like something my mom would say as well :)

  • camorose

    Haha yes but that’s exactly why I wanted to write this–better to remember the good things than just the bad!

  • camorose

    What a cool study! Will definitely be looking into that!

  • camorose

    I’ve done the same thing when I’ve seen bike accidents or issues on the train–I swear that it builds good karma!!!

  • camorose

    Love that!!!

  • camorose

    I’ve had SO many good people stop to help with things like that. So grateful!

  • camorose

    Love that!

  • Adam

    Beauti often leads to kindness.

  • Dave Brown

    Loved the people of New York. My wife & I are from Australia were having dinner one night in NYC, a lady next to us asked where we were from & we ended up getting to know the life stories of people who an hour earlier were complete strangers….we still talk about those friendly New York ladies when people tell us they find it too big or unfriendly.

  • Sincerelykateb

    Well this is by far my favorite post. And not because I’m one of the characters in it. I have yet to get rained on in NYC, both literally and figuratively, meaning since moving here the city has been pretty nice to me (with my luck, I’ll leave today and it will be raining and something awful will happen, like stepping in gum or being one part of one of those horror stories where you’re stuck in the subway for 8hrs ).

    But the Monday after this Friday catastrophe, I was leaving work. As I was walking across the street a woman completely biffed it on an uneven sidewalk. This has happened to me before. The combination of embarrassment/pain/shock is almost too much to handle. While you scurry to make sure no one sees your underwear while your skirt is over you head from the fall, the pain of the fall sets in, all the while your heartbeat is throbbing at the surprise of the fall. Within seconds, I bent down to react to her fall, but before my needs were at a right-angle, there were 3 gorgeous gentleman (all strangers, that’s just how it goes in Soho) picked this woman up (think Marilyn Monroe singing Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend). They swooped her up out of the street. while 3 other people hurriedly grabbed her purse, scarf, wallet, and phone and rushed across the street. While she collected herself, 2 of the 3 models acted as crutches, while – I kid you not- the 3rd model stranger hailed her a cab. Yes, he hailed a stranger a cab in rush-hour traffic in Soho. And he got one! The posse then folded this woman into a cab and she was on her way home uptown.

    I got the chills as a waited for the subway. None of these people knew the woman or each other, yet we all reacted with concern and altruism. Really made me believe people are good.

    Thanks for writing this and the reminder, New Yorkers aren’t awful. We’ve all got each other’s back, just don’t expect a held open door or “you’re welcome”….

    :)

  • eva

    ugh, so true! during my trip to new york last month (which your brooklyn guide totally inspired), i left my bag in the trunk of the cab outside of my office in TIMES SQUARE. i didn’t realize it until i was already on the 36th floor. i ran back downstairs – certain he would be gone – and he was in the middle of the road, all doors open, clutching my bag, and fending off rushing new yorkers who wanted his cab. i gave him the largest hug and told him he saved my trip. humans are awesome.

  • camorose

    Oh I love that! It’s all about breaking it down to individuals instead of the big mass of people in a rush.

  • camorose

    :) :) :) :) :)

  • camorose

    Oh my gosh LOVE that story!

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