Last week, I make a lightning coffee stop on Interstate 95, just outside of New York City. As I walked up the ramp to the restaurant, a 70-something, overweight white woman was leaning forward as if she couldn’t support herself as she tried to go down the ramp. A dark-skinned young man, wearing his Yankee’s cap sideways and his jeans drooping to expose his print cotton boxers, reached out with his arms to catch her hands to hold her up. As he did so the bracelets around his tatooed wrists swung awkwardly. They stood there frozen for a second, her two hands enclosed in his two hands. A couple of men in perfectly pressed suits, stopped and hesitated, wondering whether to intervene.
A voice from the bottom of the ramp explained the moment and broke the awkardness: “Thanks for holding mother. I will have her wheel chair in the car in a moment.” And so the young man and the old woman stood there hand in hand as more passers-by looked at them and hesitated. The kindness of the young man was his first instinct and he had to endure the flickering doubts of a rushing crowd. What if everyone had his instincts?