Box Full of Dishes
A few years ago, I moved from my fully furnished Upper West Side apartment to my current one bedroom apartment in Washington Heights. I had lived on the UWS for four years and because the apartment was fully furnished, I had never bought any furniture. I arrived to my current apartment with no furnishings. I immediately bought a bed and then made a trip to Ikea to buy a couch, kitchen table, and dresser. Over time, I picked up other items, chairs, a couple of side tables, and coffee table. I've also stocked my kitchen with cooking and eating utensils, random mugs, storage bowls, etc, but I had yet to buy a complete set of plates. I had two white plates that I picked up from a photo shoot years ago (back in my photo assisting days), but it felt long overdue for me to purchase an actual set of dishes. I'm an adult afterall, I should have some plates! I logged on to Overstock.com, found a nice set of white plates, and placed my order.
A few weeks later, I arrived home from work to find a UPS notice on my door, a missed delivery attempt of my dishes. The notice informed me that my package would be re-delivered to an electronic store in my neighborhood that also served as a UPS depot. This electronic store is located two long blocks from my apt. This is the type of situation that can make New York City a maddening place to live. It's wonderful that my plates would be delivered to a location within walking distance, but carrying a big box of plates for two long blocks in the summer humidity was not going to be fun.
The following evening, after work, I showed up to the electronic store with my UPS notice. The clerk found my box and gave me a quizzical look as he lowered the load into my open arms. "It's heavy," he stated. "It's okay, I got it," I responded. He hoisted the box in my arms and opened the front door for me. I started walking away from the store and was a few feet into my journey when I heard someone yell behind me, "Ma'am! Ma'am! Let me get that for you!" Before I could even turn around to look, a man was right beside me, taking the box from my arms, and saying, "Let me walk this to your door." "It's not like I live right around the corner, I'm two blocks away," I replied. "It's okay, I can carry it for you," he stated. I couldn't believe my good fortune. Here was someone willing to take on this arduous task for me. "Okay, thank you," I said.
We made small talk as we walked. His name was Michael. He grew up in my neighborhood, but now lived in the Bronx. He worked construction and had two daughters. As we walked, I checked in with my intuition, "Does he seem weird? Is he trying to steal my dishes?" But I received no warning bells. As we approached my apartment building, I said, "Well, I live in that building. I can carry the box from here." He responded, "Well, I like to see a job through to completion. If it's okay with you, I can take the box to your door." He said this as sweat speckled his forehead. I really wasn't eager to carry the box, so I accepted his generous offer. Michael walked the dishes right to my front door. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and I thanked him profusely for his help. I was truly grateful to him.
I continue to feel really grateful for this interaction. I could have managed the walk home with the heavy box, but it would have been really annoying. To have someone come out of nowhere, with no agenda to take the box from me or try to harm me, there simply to help, felt like a miracle. The world can feel tough sometimes, New York especially. But maybe moments like these are there to remind us that, even in this crazy, big, overwhelming world, there really are people out there looking out for others and happy to offer a helping hand.