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Unexpected kindness in New York City

It is a common occurrence in the New York subway for someone to walk into a car and declare that they are homeless and need  some change or a meal. This evening was like many others; not long after I got on the train, a middle aged man came in the door and began his well-rehearsed speech, concise and with gusto. At a glance, you can tell that he has given the same pitch several dozen times today. 

He got right to the point: he needed some money. As I often do, I looked for loose change in my pockets, but tonight I came up empty. I looked up and met his eyes. With nothing to offer, I smiled and shrugged a little. To my surprise, he looked at me, smiled and said, 'Thank you. Don't worry about it.'

It was a small exchange, but it stirred something inside me. New York City is a competitive, every-man-for-himself kind of place. Everyone minds their own business and few seem to take interest in the lives of others. Rarely do you see anyone smile at you in New York City, and I was struck by the kindness shown by a homeless man who has nothing to give. He showed a kind of grace that is not often seen in this city. It was rare and it was beautiful.

Tino ChowNew York, Stories