On Karma and Humanity in NYC
Note: The primary focus of these entries will be to document cross-country bike touring, but this is a small NYC anecdote that felt worth including in the context of leaving NYC and reflecting on my stay there, and hoping to get some positive energy on the way out.
I have made no secret of my struggles in NYC. Life is difficult and this city often has a way of amplifying that. But on occasion, within the madness and the chaos, there arises the opportunity to participate in the very humanness that keeps the whole thing from spinning into utter oblivion.
Last Thursday, I went out with my pal on a long bike ride up to Nyack. I had gone pretty hard and gotten a little sun the day before and on this particular day had pushed my body harder than it had any interest in being pushed. By the time we got back to his place on 6th ave. I felt a physical desperation the likes of which I had never experienced. We stumbled, pathetically, into the ramen shop next door and there, blocking the entrance were a frenzied employee and a woman off the street frantically talking about something -she had found a wallet on the street and brought it into the restaurant thinking that, perhaps, the owner had dropped it on her way out and maybe the shop would have some way of getting it back to her. The worker approached my friend and I — could we possibly reunite the wallet with its owner? The default setting of New York is to not meddle, to keep your head down and keep moving, but then there are these moments. I’m reasonably internet savvy — there was ID in the wallet. It shouldn’t be too hard to track it back to where it belonged.
Over lunch, I did a quick search — the owner appeared to be on facebook — the profile picture looked like a match. Job done. But, no response. I agreed to take it home and see if she responded. I googled her the next day. No luck on facebook. Tried twitter. No luck. Linkedin led me to an email address. Success! I contacted the wallet’s owner and agreed to hop on a bike and bring her the wallet.
She met me downstairs, corralling her young child, ecstatic. She had made me a thank you card to express her gratitude. A warm gesture.
I don’t know what the point is. I asked up on the facebook in the middle of all of this, what I should do if I couldn’t get a hold of the owner. Almost universally, the responses were reasonable and warm-hearted. People reached out with advice and similar anecdotes of their own possessions being lost and returned, and things that they had done in similar situations.
That the wallet got to me, intact, at all, no less than three people having examined and not taken its contents before me, is a thing. Small acts of humanity are their own daily heroism. It is the thing that keeps us able, in spite of everything, to keep going. I didn’t do a special thing. I did what anybody would have done. And it is that that is special. Godspeed. Pay it forward.