“Oh, no,” Rebecca’s friend yelled. It was the end of the school day and the four friends were leaving the building looking forward to their break. The smiles do not last long. Like a stealthy hand reaching from the sky, the unexpected wind knocked free all of the papers from my daughter’s friend’s hands. The group of girls that had left the school together stood there in shock as the stack of papers seemingly began to disperse out towards the four corners of the area outside the school. This is high school, where any unusual incident could lead toward continuous commentaries, and not necessarily in a kind spirit. What was a group of relatively quiet girls to do?
New York City used to have the image that it was an overcrowded city with not the nicest of people, crime-ridden streets and residents that could not care about the person next to them. Growing up, we were used to the homeless, the people in the streets with dirty squeegees, and Times Square as an open sex market. Even as the city was getting cleaned up, the perceived image of the people themselves did not change. September 11th changed that when the people of New York banded together to help one another. About 2 years later, the northeast was crippled by a blackout from the electric grid going down, stranding millions of people in the city. Again, the people banded together to help out neighbors and strangers alike. Whatever the images we each project, when things go bad, we tend to put aside our differences to help one another out. We can see this with friends and families, where we put aside our grievances to help someone in trouble, less fortunate, or just down on their luck.
The girls stood there paralyzed by the unexpected explosion of papers. They could each feel the trickle of sweat on their brows hoping that no one saw this, expecting to be greeted with fingers pointing and the laughter to start. As if somebody had placed the needle on the record triggering a flash mob, students appeared from out of nowhere, as if in a well choreographed dance sequence, to smoothly gather all of the papers and hand them back to the friend, before disappearing as if they were never there. Now the students were standing frozen in disbelief…did that really happen? It just goes to show, that as humans, we have the ability to surprise ourselves, and others, by coming together, even for a short period of time, to help out.