A Kinder Kind of New York

April 27, 2009

I have been to New York City at least five times in as many years. Something has changed in the City. It is softer, kinder, more humane. After spending five days there, I experienced nothing but kindness wherever I went.

Someone once told me you see the world through a mirror, not a lens. That which you project is what you see. But there was something more than friendliness returned. There was a deeper level of authenticity I had never known New Yorkers were capable of before.

We attended the very last performance of Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera. Right before intermission, the general manager came on stage with the entire cast to honor one of the lead singers for his twenty-five years of service. The award was swathed in a piece of the old Met’s curtain. That they all spoke English, not Italian, pulled me from my reverie. I suddenly realized where I was again (their performance was that convincing ~ the second act was equally so). By doing so, they created a new connection with the audience. These were real people up there doing what they love for us. I felt myself steeped in profound gratitude.

Consider my fabulous hotel, Portland Square Hotel, whose unbelievably accommodating staff matches its equally cool location just off Time Square. It had a different feel than I remember it. They cared. And they showed it.

Perhaps there’s something in the water on 47th. I don’t know.  Cheryl Huse, new-york-040the hotel front desk staff member remembered my name, cheerfully reminded me of package pick-up as they arrived, and even hugged me at the end. Or Lee, the manager, who skillfully handled an upset taxi driver negotiate another $4 from some British guests who unwillingly stiffed him of some toll money.

starbucksOr what about the Starbucks next store at the 47th and 6th NHL store location? You’d think Starbucks is the same wherever you go. Not so. These people stood for making a difference.

Ted took orders while the baristas carried out our orders. In his loving style, Ted asked us what we preferred, then asked us our names. The best part was he remembered them. With a swarm of caffeine-craving people, he remain undaunted. In fact, his laughter and bright eyes were infectious.

It wasn’t only the convenient location that prompted me to go there again. It was the feeling I had while in the store. On the morning of my departure (Sunday) Adam and Andy cheerfully helped a Spanish couple who was struggling with their English.

“Hablo Espangol?” Andy asked.  Visibly relieved, they ordered in their native tongue.

“I know you, but I don’t know your sister,” Adam said to me as I ordered a tall coffee with room for milk. I smiled, then introduced my mom who was celebrating her 68th birthday. He gave her her chai latte for free.

So listen up, Jerrel, the store’s manager at the NHL location. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it well. We walked away feeling warm on the inside, not only for the hot coffee I eagerly poured into my jet-lagged system, but for the feeling of humanity that has entered New York.

Kindness rules no matter where you are in the world. I am inspired by the people I have met. It makes me ask: what kindness can I bring to this day?

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