dharma monkey

embrace the monkey

The kindness of strangers


Metro’s Red Line was a zoo tonight, with a 15-minute delay that caused throngs of people to crowd the stations and try to force their way onto train when it finally arrived. I decided to join a group of about 10 people around me and step back to let folks duke it out while we waited for the next train.

The following train was, of course, nearly empty as everyone preferred to pack themselves in rather than wait an additional 90 seconds for the next one. I boarded, and at the next stop (Metro Center), there was a sizable group of people waiting to board. After they piled into the car, a Metro employee guided a blind woman through the train doors.

I froze. This woman is toast, I thought to myself as the people around me pressed into my sides and back. The Metro worker told the woman that a pole was about six feet to her right, and time seemed to stand still as she reached through the crowd toward that pole. I just knew that someone was gonna say something rude as she reached, and then a man who had previously kept his head buried in a book quietly guided her arm to the pole.

As the train pulled into Chinatown, I mentally prepared myself to start pulling the bodies off this lady as she got trampled — she was, after all, standing directly in front of the doors. But when we arrived, everyone stayed calm and two people helped guide the woman off the train without her asking.

I’ve been riding Washington’s subway since 1993, and I’ve never seen such a display of courtesy and patience by a large and (apparently not so) agitated group. What was it about this woman that could make a group of commuters actually stop in their tracks and show compassion? These were the same people who normally kick and claw their way onto a train, but something was different today.

Good for you, Washington.

Author: Sean

I am Sean, a writer/PR guy originally from the Rural South who grew up and settled down in Washington, D.C. My interests include local politics, Eastern philosophy, languages and reality television.

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