Painted Background

On a lighter note

By Savannah Smith

“I think the subways of New York City are where you can see both the worst and the best in people depending on the day. Months ago I was transferring trains in Brooklyn. There was a bit of a wait before the next train came so I sat on the bench and placed my wallet in my lap. I didn’t have a bag with me so I had nowhere else to put it. When the train finally came, I stood up, forgetting my wallet. It fell to the ground as I got on the train and before the doors closed a middle-aged man ran after me to return my wallet. My whole life is in that thing: my credit cards, my emergency cash, my subway card, and even my laundry card! It would have been such a headache to replace all those things. I thanked the man before the doors closed and then I never saw him again. People come to New York expecting to get pick-pocketed and scammed but that moment proved that most New Yorkers are just as nice as your typical suburbanite.” —Abigail Whittington

subway, A Returned Wallet

As a recent San Francisco transplant in New York, very little could prepare me for my first east coast winter. Family and friends tried to warn me as I packed for grad school at the end of last summer, but my Californian brain just couldn’t comprehend their stories of pipes bursting due to sub-zero temperatures, of slipping on icy sidewalks or of the frost that forms INSIDE your windowpane. 

So after surviving what was literally and proverbially the longest winter of my life, I waited anxiously for the first signs of spring, for my walk to work to feel less like a trek through a barren wasteland. And suddenly, it all happened at once.

Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, the leaves on trees had grown in overnight, and branches sprouted pink flower buds. Tulips, lavender bushes, and magnolias colored the sidewalks with their petals like confetti, and everything suddenly felt like it was going to be okay again.” —Greta Chiocchetti

city in bloom

“A few Saturdays ago, I was walking to the gym around 10 a.m. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a girl sprinting down the block next to me. Naturally, I was curious about what she was running towards. She started waving her arms, and I saw that it was towards a bus driver. The driver had to have waited at least a full minute for her to get there. Before I crossed the street, I saw her nearly face flush with relief because she made it. It made my morning to see that in a city full of people racing from one thing to the next, a little bit of patience went a long way.” —Savannah Smith

MTA Saved the Day

“A few rainy days ago, the entire city was heavier than usual. Everything was grey and wet and icky. I was a little disheartened and wanted more than anything to crawl into my (dry and clean) bed in my (dry and clean) apartment on the other side of town. I got on the R train heading uptown and saw a girl wearing bright yellow shoes. Her resistance to the rainy day made me smile.” —Savannah Smith

rainy day resistance on the R

“On a recent Saturday on East Fourth Street, I passed a woman while I was walking to get a cup of coffee. She dropped a red glove. Before I had time to say anything, four other complete strangers had stopped to either bend down and pick it up or say something to her. Their eagerness to help made my whole afternoon.” —Savannah Smith

watercolor sketch

“I was walking in the East Village one day to go to the subway. It was a gloomy day – lots of rain, and I was in a bad mood in general. On Avenue A, there was a little boy zooming on the sidewalk in a miniature car. Everyone was laughing and moving out of the way for him and it was just so refreshingly human – sometimes I feel so out of touch from humanity here, but moments like these bring me back down to Earth.” —Katie Berohn

some humanity on a dreary day