Sometimes, stranger's behavior and interactions give me hope and renew my faith in the species we are part of. I am fortunate (Persistent?) that even in this city that devours most and destroys a spirit of goodwill (except at Christmas) that I have witnessed and been a part of selfless acts. That being said, the other day, one of my most treasured memories was ripped from me; it's heartbreaking how quickly the good feelings wane.
First, a little back story. Three days before Christmas 2012, I was walking my usual route home as I had just finished a later shift at work. Eastern Parkway looked particularly lovely that night when a face directly in front of mine disturbed my carol fueled bliss. Normally, now immune and slightly cold when it comes to stranger contact on the street, I would've continued on my merry way and not given stopping a second thought, but this woman was particularly persistent so I removed my headphones and greeted her. She nearly started crying because she was so overjoyed that someone was actually listening to her. The woman introduced herself and began a terrible story about how she was from, Staten Island and never came to Brooklyn, but her step mother had just passed away. She proceeded to tell me that her siblings were in the grips of a social worker ready to take them to foster care and she had come to their rescue but had run out of gas in the process. She had contacted the fire department and they were willing to transport gas but not purchase it and because of the time, all the banks were closed and her debit card had been stolen within the last couple of weeks. With great shame and humility she then proceeded to ask if she could have $20 to make it back to SI. She was willing to give me her Drivers License and let me speak to the officers present. I told her it wasn't necessary; as I had also lost a parent at Christmas, I understood and said I would gladly help her. I withdrew an extra $10 so she could get something to eat. She threw her arms around me and thanked me genuinely; I wished her Merry Christmas, and went on my way.
This moment meant a lot to me. Whenever I felt my faith in humanity waning, I would think of this story and how I got to be a Christmas angel on earth. Acts like these are sacred to me and there is nothing more meaningful than helping someone genuinely in need.
Three days ago, I was walking with my wife and sister down St. John's, headed to Downtown Brooklyn for some much needed relaxation time when in steps another girl. A different hairstyle, a different set of makeup designs but still "very desperately" in need. As I was listening, a moment of realization, then horror dawned upon me. It was the same girl telling the same story in exactly the same way. Unless her zombie mother had a heart attack, I had been duped. I was so instantly heartbroken, ashamed and livid. To think one of my most treasured New York memories was with a con artist. Ashamed because I fell for it in the first place, and livid because this woman in front of me destroyed my goodwill and took advantage of my own grief and kindness. She ruined my perspective. I have tried not to become jaded by this city, but she was a load to great to bear. Now whenever someone approaches me with a genuine story of sadness and need, I will always think of her and her cruel nature and greed: her stupidity as well for that matter. She should've recognized me. We talked for twenty minutes. She should've had the same moment of reckoning that I had. I don't know what I can do to remedy this situation in my mind. I am not bitter about many things but this was too much.