It's all too easy to grow cynical and wary in this urban environment, but the outpouring of letters we've received reveals a heartwarming level of honesty, compassion and humanity. Maybe we're a more gentle species than city life suggests.
Goodwill Overcomes Language Barrier
These were the last days of summer for students, so my grandson Ben and I decided to go sightseeing before he started high school. We went on the Metro Orange Line and sat on the L-configured seats near the door. The man sitting across from me was busily working on his laptop computer.
Next stop, a young man in shorts and with a small piece of luggage sat down next to Computer Man and said loudly, "Russian." Nobody nearby responded that he knew Russian. Now everyone around tried to help, but he responded, "No English." Though it was obvious he knew no English, those around were now involved in trying to aid him.
But he was able to convey that he was looking for a YMCA near a Metro, perhaps to go swimming or take a shower?
By now Computer Man had signed off from his business work and was actively searching the Internet for a YMCA near a Metro. He found one near the U Street stop and someone nearby volunteered that the young Russian would need to change to the Green Line. Computer Man was now seeking a translation service and our Russian visitor was soon leaning over to read from the computer in his native language.
But this was not the end of the story. By then, Computer Man had passed his own Metro stop and went on to L'Enfant Plaza in order to get off with our visitor and put him on a Green Line train to U Street. When I commented on his kindness, he said with a slight accent, "I know what it is like to be a stranger and lost."
The onlookers were all smiling, and one woman nearby commented on the humanity shown to our visitor. I told Computer Man I would tell his story to the Washington Post. I hope he sees himself in this story of Random Acts of Kindness.
-- Edith Kaufman, Annandale
A Friendly Word Can Be Like Music
One beautiful, sunny, drive-with-the-windows-down kind of day, I was sitting in my car at a traffic light. Music played loudly from a car in the lane next to me. On some other day, I might have been bothered by it. Instead, I tried to identify the song and the band that sang it. It was a familiar song from my youth, but I hadn't heard it in some time.
Suddenly, the music went silent, and I heard a voice come from the car.
"I'm sorry," the woman said, "I didn't realize how loud my music was. I like to listen to it loud as I am driving down the road, but sometimes I forget to turn it down when I come to a stop."
"No problem," I replied.
The light turned green, and her lane turned left. I thought about how considerate it was for her to have said that. A total stranger, she cared what I thought. My only regret was that the light turned green before I could ask the name of the song and the group that sang it!
-- Leslie Morrisette, Fairfax Station