Last week while I waited in a Starbucks in Greenwich Village for a friend I witnessed a sad thing. I sat by the window, people watching, and a woman walked by with her two children.
She was tall, blonde, in her mid to late 30s, pushing a stroller with a little girl in it, and holding the hand of a little boy who looked to be about 5 years old.
The stroller hit a bump in the sidewalk and a baby bottle that was in the cup-holder went flying; the pizza that had been placed atop the stroller fell to the ground, upside down.
The woman sighed, picked up the bottle, and jammed it into the cup holder. She picked up the pizza box as I watched in suspense. It was ruined. She frustratedly shut the box and placed it back on top of the stroller.
She resumed her position to push the stroller but as I watched her face it scrunched up into an expression that I instantly recognized. She was going to cry. She looked absolutely frazzled, exhausted, and completely at her wits end.
Her little boy looked at her expectantly as she and I locked eyes. I gave her a sympathetic look and she acknowledged my sympathy with a weary smile. She took her boy's hand and resumed her walk.
My heart went out to her. I can only imagine how hard her day had been.
Every little thing you do, every interaction you have with a stranger can shape how they move along the rest of their days; their lives.
I can only hope that my sympathy helped that woman carry on with her day, but it makes me really think about everyone I meet. How my short temper can add to someone's terrible day, or how my kindness can uplift someone who needs a smile or a reassurance in humanity.
That short interaction reminded me that we're all people, all 7 billion of us, and we all have the power to harm or help each other with indifference or kindness. I vote we choose kindness.