This week was brutal. Multiple staff turnovers announced at work, resulting in my own group being shorthanded. Leaving my tennis club one day, I wasn’t paying attention to cars since the main avenue was cleared of traffic for a street fair. Then I heard a guy yelling and I turned around to see a truck going by, about a couple of feet from me. Thank God for the pedestrian who yelled to get my attention. Who said New Yorkers were cruel, rude? A few weeks ago, I was stumbling toward Koreatown, after a long day at the office, and found myself slipping on a rubber tread on the sidewalk, in front of CVS. Just blocks away from the Empire State Building, European tourists infesting the walkways, and there I was, flat on the sidewalk. I heard a guy say, “Are you OK?” I never saw him, but I said “Yes” to the air and kicked the rubber obstacle into the street, near the curb, so that someone else wouldn’t fall.
A number of years ago, another anonymous New Yorker came to my aid. I was walking up from the subway in midtown, and suddenly realized that my Coach shoulder bag was open. I had stupidly NOT placed the bag across my body, which is de rigueur in any urban setting; it was hanging on right shoulder and someone had expertly opened the metal clasp and taken my small black wallet. I was in the middle of a crowd, and I instinctively turned to the middle-aged African-American man on my left and demanded that he return my wallet. He looked away sheepishly, and I yelled again. Up on the sidewalk, he stared wordlessly at me as I continued to demand my wallet. A young Asian-American guy came over and started yelling at the middle-aged guy. He had a newspaper under his arm; as he proceeded to walk quickly past me, my wallet fell out of his newspaper. As I bent down to grab it, the young guy smiled and patted me on the arm. “Take care,” he said, and then he was gone, before I could say a word.
The British used the slogan KEEP CALM & CARRY ON during WWII. Today, in 2011, in this Great (global) Recession, these words seem apt. As things change constantly in the workplace, people and policies come and go, the weather as unpredictable as ever, regimes come and go–my job is to be true to myself, live my life, be righteous, listen to my inner voice.