Sunday, June 10, 2007

Street Politics, Redux

I am a sort of a kindness junky. One of my biggest guilty pleasures is the feeling of of having brightened someone's day. This isn't always a virtue; first of all, my urge to perform random acts of kindness is sometimes actually a disguised urge to avoid the work in front of me. Second, It exacerbates my pre-exisitng tendency to be a backseat driver. I haven't been perfect about making sure my help is appreciated, or even particularly helpful. It also leads me, on occasion, to get in over my head, as when I promise to teach someone something I don't actually understand myself.

Nevertheless, I persevere. Never is my campaign of minor charity so evident as when I'm traveling the city. It's one of the few times in my life I am really on my own (homeschooling will do that). Thus, I can go out of my way without inconveniencing anyone else. Further, it doesn't take long for me to get bored and lonely. Keeping an eye out for travelers in need keeps me busy, and actual intervention presents an opportunity for human contact.

Thus, in the span of the last few months, I have carried bags for an elderly passenger, narrowly saved a South Asian traveler from missing a train, walked someone to a station, interpreted subway, and otherwise assisted at least a half-dozen harried travelers.

I've been doing this since at least last year. Last year, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to keep some statistics on the identities of those I helped. I soon forgot about it, and never finished my analysis.

I do remember quite clearly, though, that an overwhelming majority have been female-- perhaps a 2- or 3- to 1 ratio. I also know that virtually none have been black.

I haven't worked out quite what I feel about that.
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