|When was the last time you helped a stranger?|
When living in New York City, it’s easy to get stuck in our own little bubble of work, stress, bills, and a general “me, me, me” mentality. But let’s not forget that when we help others, it makes us happier. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture – random acts of kindness in NYC, such as those listed below, can go a long way.
Hold the elevator door for someone.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked through the doors of my building, made eye contact with someone who just got into the elevator, and then watched them frantically push the “CLOSE” button so they can take a solo ride up. Unfortunately, common courtesy isn’t always so common in NYC – but that doesn’t mean we have to act like feral children.
Buy food or necessities for a homeless person.
If you see a homeless person outside of a grocery store, drugstore, bodega, or coffee shop, pick up something extra for him or her. A bottle of water and some snacks from Duane Reade is often more valuable than giving cash.
|“Anything is appreciated.”|
Ask a sales clerk how her day is going.
I’ve worked retail in Seattle and London, but can’t imagine how crazy it must be to work in an NYC store. The hordes of customers, the attitudes, the exhaustion, etc. Next time a salesperson is ringing you up, ask her how her day is going. You may be the only one who ever asks throughout an entire shift – and it will really make a difference in her day.
Let someone go ahead of you in line.
New York City locals know time is money. So allowing someone to go in front of you in a checkout line or when boarding a bus is an extra special act of kindness.
|Make a fellow New Yorker’s day –– let someone go in front of you in when boarding the bus.|
Bring treats for the office.
Remember when you were in elementary school and a classmate would bring cupcakes for everyone on her birthday? Recreate that feeling and lighten up a tedious workweek by bringing in treats for everyone at your office. Whether you choose donuts, bagels, or go on a simple coffee run, your co-workers will appreciate it.
Pick up litter.
The city does its best to keep the streets clean, but it’s impossible to be completely litter-free with so many people crammed into a relatively small area. If you see a random Coke bottle or empty pizza box on the sidewalk, take a second to pick it up and throw it away properly.
Help a tourist.
Debunk the stereotype that all New Yorkers are rude by helping tourists with directions or taking a photo. Maybe if we all pitch in with capturing their candid moments in the city, selfie sticks will become extinct. Seriously, those things have got to go.
|Next time you see a tourist pull out the selfie stick, offer to take a picture.|
Leave a kind note for a waiter.
Obviously, you should always tip generously when receiving exceptional service. But writing a kind note on the receipt – even something as short as “We had an amazing time, thank you so much!” – is a nice touch.
Compliment a street performer.
Some street performers have dedicated their whole lives to their craft, and the streets of New York City may be the only stage they grace. Listen and watch closely, and you’ll easily spot a few artists who are more talented than anyone in today’s mainstream media. Cash tips are appreciated, but a genuine verbal compliment means the world to a serious artist. (Trust me on this one.)
|Street performers appreciate verbal compliments.|
Help a stranger schlep her bags.
Cab fares to and from the airport are expensive, and tons of New Yorkers rely on public transit. If you see someone struggling with luggage or bags, especially when going up and down those subway steps, lend a helping hand.
Thank someone for service.
I pass by my neighborhood firehouse on the Upper East Side frequently, for obvious reasons. But aside from the trivial eye candy factor, the FDNY really is one of Gotham’s biggest heroes. If you see a fireman, police officer, or street cleaner during your day, take a second to say “Thank you” for the service he or she provides.
|“Thank you” means more than you know.|