Buying a ticket for the subway
The first time I was taking the subway in New York City on my own I was a little intimidated. It was only the 3rd time in my life I had been to New York. I wasn’t fully comfortable walking the streets let alone taking the subway. Growing up I had seen so many movies where people were mugged or pick pocketed on the sub way. I remembered there was a time the a group called the Guardian Angels used to patrol the subway system to keep people safe. Things had changed over the years, but I wasn’t sure how to buy a subway ticket or how to find the correct train for where I wanted to go. I found the entrance to the station and took the stairs down. I saw people lined up for ticket machines and got in line. I tried to not make eye contact and did my best to pretend that I belonged.
There were 2 machines and at the one on the left there was a man in his late twenties. He had shaved head and it along with his face was covered in tattoos. In fact, his whole body was covered in tattoos and he had piercings every where and even studs sticking out of his face. His appearance sort of scared me and made me feel uneasy. He was talking to the people at the machine to his right. I couldn’t hear him though. I wondered if he was asking them for money. These people just pretended to not hear him bought their tickets and walked away. He looked like the type of person I could picture trying to rob me. When I got closer I realized he was asking them for help. He didn’t know how to add money to his subway pass. When it was my turn to use the machine beside him he asked me for help.
I had no idea how to load his card or even how to buy my own ticket. I realized that since I didn’t know how to load money on his card, I had every reason to tell him I didn’t know how and walk away. However, at the moment I saw him differently, and I felt bad that no one would acknowledge him. He was person just like me that wasn’t sure how to use those machines. If I didn’t try to help him out I don’t know how long he would have stood there. I finished buying my ticket and turned to him and said I’m not sure how to add more money to your card but I’ll see if I can figure it out for you. I looked at the screen and asked him a few questions and showed him where to put his money in. In a few minutes he was all set with the money loaded onto his card. He was so thankful for my help. It made me feel really good that I an out of towner was able to help him. After that I was also no longer intimidated by the subway or by the whole city for that matter. That day I learned that quite often people look at what makes other’s different from them rather than what makes us the same. I am sure he’s probably long forgotten about the day I helped him and had I ignored him and walked away without helping him I might have even forgot about it. However, thinking back it still makes me feel good that I helped him. Had I just ignored him like everyone else I wouldn’t have had that good memory to look back on and missed out on learning a good lesson.
Wow, the line where you said “quite often people look at what makes others different from them rather than what makes us the same.” I wish the world was better where we all can come into a union by thinking like this. the world would be so much different than it is right now. People today love to put others in categories. Your letter is amazing!