Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Do a good deed and save the life of a three-year old

For those of you who watch the ABC sitcom, “Cougar Town,” starring Courteney Cox, you might remember an episode from a week or so ago. It was based on the concept of “Pay it forward.” You do something nice for someone or say a few generous words, and they in turn do the same for another person—friend or a stranger. In the end, a chain of good deeds gets manufactured.

But this was a small town in Florida. City living, though I love it, has made me skeptical and distrustful to an extent. New Yorkers, overall, are often labeled as apathetic. Be it the paucity of time or the every day struggle, everybody is always in a hurry. And often engrossed in their own world.

Many years ago, one of my professors at Columbia University thought I was upset with him over a grade or something and that’s why I had not acknowledged his “hellos.” Apparently, this one time his family too was with him. He called out to me thinking he could introduce me to his wife.

I felt terrible. I am not the kind of person who would ignore or ever get passive-aggressive. If I have an issue, believe me, you will hear about it one-on-one—that is if I believe you are mature enough to comprehend the intent of the conversation. And if I think you are an adult with the emotional maturity of a three-year old, I will watch my distance.

I finally realized what had occurred. I always have music blaring in my ears. And when I step out of my house, I wear my coat of cautiousness with words floating in my head. You could say I switch off the world. City cacophony can enter spaces you don’t want it to. Someone needs to literally tap my shoulder to catch my attention.

Long story short, I reached out to my professor, apologized again, and asked him to make eye-to-eye contact the next time he saw me.

My example wasn’t an exception. Several of my friends have been in similar, awkward situations. And no, not all of them are artists and writers. I know, we, creative types have our own reputation.:-)

Anyway, my husband lacks the New York trait. He helps the randomest of folks at the weirdest of hours in the strangest of places. I don’t think it’s very smart, and he’s paid heavily, a few times, for his credulous attitude. I shudder as I think about those incidents. But he doesn’t give up. I think we are all wired differently. I trust people I know and get burnt while he relies on strangers to do the damage:-)

A week ago, over a cup of weekend-tea, my husband said to me, “You bend backwards for family and friends. So what if I help people without even knowing them? And yes, I especially assist women with carriages or the elderly with heavy bags on subway stairs because I know what you go you have to go through with your injured-neck. And maybe, when I do this for others, when you need help, a stranger might come to your rescue.”

He got me thinking. I too have always believed in doing the right thing. But as mentioned above, I choose a different route. Munificent gestures get limited to the people from my own universe. As in, I am there for the people I know. And though I might offer my seat in the subway to a pregnant woman or an elderly, I am wary of random conversations with unfamiliar humans. If I see someone hurt, my first reaction would be to call 911 as opposed to helping directly. You never know who the person next to you is. And is it worth finding out?

Though not fully convinced, I decided to try my husband’s method of going out of the way for strangers. Of course, I hid my wallet in the deepest crevasses of my handbag.

Next morning, as I was crossing the street (mind you the roads were snowy and slushy), I saw a young, blind lady trying to walk over this pile of slush from the other side of the road. Normally, I would have informed her that the “walk signal” wasn’t on and that she probably wanted to wait a few minutes. Don’t judge; all New Yorkers partake in jaywalking. But this time I waited with her. I told her that I would help her cross the street and only then go about my business. She was surprised but thanked me immensely. A minute later, this man emerged out of his car and said, “I will take it from here.” He blocked the street with his car such that no other vehicles could drive by and hurt this lady. It was like the sets of a Broadway Show. Seeing this guy, another dude stepped outside his car and offered to help. In front of my eyes, on a chaotic winter morning, New Yorkers proved that good deed is infectious.

I called up my husband and told him what had happened. Needless to say, he gloated.J

A few days later, I saw several postings on Facebook about this three-year-old boy, Rayan, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a form of blood cancer. It was heart wrenching. One particular update caught my eye; my friend had posted it. Her son and Rayan are classmates. And I have met her son on several occasions. This story at that very moment became personal for me. I hate the C-word.

I have decided to get myself tested for bone marrow compatibility. I hope and pray it matches, so I can help out Rayan. And if you are a South Asian, may I urge you to get tested as well? It would could be that much more helpful for a match. Click here for details.

When I told my husband of my decision, he said, “You know the transplant itself is very painful.” I said to him, “Much more than what the parents of a three-year-old are going through? Or the kid himself?”

I don’t know if winter brings out the nice in people. Or we all find our own causes that we believe and support in. Whatever might be the case, do a good deed and pass it on. Like laughter, it’s contagious. And God knows this chaotic world could use some positive energy.

More until next time,


Copyright © 02.10.2011

“For even in dreams a good deed is not lost” ~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca

1 comment:

BC said...

Bravo !Good experiment with one of the realities. Blessings.