Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone! Since I have absolutely zero (nay, NEGATIVE) desire to watch the Patriots in another Super Bowl, I decided to write my second article in a new series of weekly blog posts called “New York Niceties. Each week I will write a brief post highlighting at least one heartwarming thing or two that I experienced in my day-to-day, read about in the news, or saw in the streets of the city. The focus of this series will be things I observed that made feel grateful and inspired – kindness from a stranger, the words of children, gestures or acts of service between loved ones – nothing is off limits so long as it inspires one to see the goodness in New York and beyond. Because let’s face it – New Yorkers (and people in general) LOVE to complain. Our brains are literally wired to focus on the negative. So with a little extra effort, let’s see if we can find reasons to be grateful and see if practiced gratitude really can change our perspective.
So without further ado, my New York Niceties for the week:
#1: My Boss Let Me Take the Morning Off When I Had a Migraine
So for those of you who don’t know, I have been suffering with migraines a LOT in the last 9 months or so. I’ve had headaches my whole life, and the occasional migraine maybe once a year since I was in my late teens, but the frequency with which they’ve been occurring has increased drastically since last Spring. I’m at the point where I’ve been getting them at least once a month since April, and sometimes up to two and three times a month since then. They’ve interfered with many a weekend plan and even vacations. At first I thought perhaps it was a symptom of the dual case of mono and strep I had, but it now seems like it’s another issue entirely. They are completely debilitating and often require me to lay flat on my back in a dark room with a cool cloth on my head, sometimes for an entire day, just wishing the pain would go away. On Tuesday, I woke up with a “mini migraine” (after having one wake me up in the middle of the night on Saturday) where all the symptoms for a full blown migraine–nausea, light sensitivity, piercing pain over my right eye–were all lingering, ready to become full blown. I got ready for work, hoping that some coffee and willpower would wipe it away, but as soon as I finished putting on my mascara I sat on my bed and just…couldn’t. The last time I pushed myself to go to work with a migraine, I almost passed out on the subway and ended up leaving at noon. So I emailed my boss and said I needed to take a few hours off and would try to come in later, and he was really kind and understanding about it. I keep thinking that with all of the health issues I’ve been having the last year (mono, strep, strep again, migraines, an infection, pink eye) he’s going to think that he got a defect EA, or get fed up with it and think I’m just trying to get out of work, but instead, he just seems to feel really bad. And in a cutthroat city where one could easily be swapped out for another in a job like mine, I’m grateful that my boss is understanding!
#2: Subway Seat-Swap
So it’s no surprise to you all how I feel about the MTA and how it’s the reason behind a New Yorker’s love for happy hour. What makes it worse is that people’s rude behavior tends to get amplified as too many people try to squeeze into not enough space. This leads to passive aggressive (and even outright aggressive) fighting/scrambling/angling for seats, and not even the elderly/pregnant/disabled are safe. On my morning ride in to work on Thursday, a seat opened up in front of where I was standing, so I gratefully snagged this rare opportunity and sat down. As soon as I did, an older woman moved down a little closer to stand in front of me where I was previously standing . I felt a twinge of guilt – here I was, fully able-bodied, sitting down when I only had a few stops left, and nobody was offering their seat to this older woman. So I reached out to her and offered her my seat, to which she gratefully, but politely, refused, multiple times when I tried to insist. But then, at the next stop, someone sitting next to me exited the train, so the woman actually did sit down. She then proceeded to point out a free seat that opened up across from her to another old lady who was standing near her old spot. We were all passing our seats on to each other and looking out for one another – a rare occurrence on the subway in general, let alone on the morning commute. When I got off at the next stop, she thanked me again for offering my seat and wished me a pleasant day. It was a great start to the morning and a pleasant deterrence from the usual stress/chaos of the commute to work.
#3: Lyft Line Brings Us Together
On evenings when I’m out late, or on weekends when the trains aren’t running, or I simply can’t face the MTA because of the recent subway claustrophobia that’s been developing, I’ve started taking Lyft Line/Uber Pool. No, I’m not one of those people that just blows money on cars a la Blair Waldorf; this is one of my work perks because my company allots a certain amount of money per month for public transportation – which includes ride shares like Lyft Line, where the car picks up/drops off multiple passengers on a (theoretically) similar route. Sometimes I’m lucky and end up being the only passenger, and sometimes I end up with a less-than-desirable co-passenger, or the matching algorithm has the car running circles that are totally out of the way of my destination to pick people up. It’s a bit like playing Russian roulette, but more often than not it ends up being better than the subway. In any event, Kyle and I went out to dinner and a movie last night to celebrate the end of his Whole30, and after the movie was over, we hopped in a Lyft to come back home to Astoria. We ended up with the nicest driver from Bangladesh, and got into conversations about movies (he made fun of us because we both admitted that we had fallen asleep at the theater!), Mission Impossible and James Bond (his favorite films), his experiences as a driver in NYC, and his wife and college-bound kids. We actually ended up picking up a passenger along the way, and the four of us had a nice conversation on the commute home about which Fyre Festival documentary we preferred. It was a fleeting moment where we were all connected for a few brief minutes, and we made the most of our short time together to just enjoy a stranger’s company, knowing full well we’d probably never see each other again.