I’m not from New York City, but when my family and I are there, I do my best to pretend. During our last visit, on the way to retrieve our car after a long day with kids in tow, we ended up at a subway station with no attendant and no ticket machines.
Following the seemingly easy instructions from the ticket agent earlier in the day, I began to swipe our two MetroCards in order to get the five of us through one of the full-size rotating grates. I exhausted one card as I was told and proceeded to swipe the second card to get the three children through.
This worked until it was my turn. Then I swiped the card and … nothing. I tried again. Nothing. I tried the other card again. Nothing. My son suggested that he push the grate backward a click so that I could get in and go forward a click. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I was still holding out hope that the machine was just catching up with all of the swiping I had going on. Nope.
I quickly realized that having no attendant and no machines and no way to jump the turnstile eliminated my obvious options. I was going to have to leave my family alone at the station while I went somewhere to get a ticket. Where exactly am I? Where am I going to get a ticket?
Before I could even begin to stress out about this problem, I heard what I can only describe as the voice of reason calling from the other side of the grate. “Sir…”
Turning, expecting to be informed of my situation’s slim chances by someone in authority, I was totally astonished to see a lovely woman, with an elegant black dress and her smartphone, handing a MetroCard to me and, as if reading my mind, saying that there wasn’t anywhere to buy them close by. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.
Having spent the whole day watching out as if the whole city were just waiting for us to slip, I felt as if this woman was teaching me a much bigger lesson than having extra credit on your MetroCard.
To that elegant heroine, who wouldn’t even allow me to pass her a few dollars to at least cover the ride, I am extremely thankful. I didn’t get to say “Thank you” the way I would have liked to, but am convinced that the woman would be happy to know that she created a ripple in life ringed with good.