Image courtsey The Big Umbrella projectIt’s struck me in recent days that what this city needs is a little more “scout’s honour.” By that I don’t mean “being prepared,” although that’s not a bad idea. What I mean is that concept of doing a good deed everyday. And not even something visible or acknowledged, the small stuff really counts when one’s thinking of humanity on a human scale.


What led me to this line of musing was the recent bouts of rain. This turns New York sidewalks into an informal mall of umbrella-salesman. it also increases the radius of personal space around each person as they perambulate down the pavement with their personal moisture prophylactic deployed and tightly clutched.

Take a look and you’ll see it’s one person: one umbrella. But it’s also an opportunity to temporarily provide for one of man’s most basic needs, shelter, to your less fortunate commuters. The person who forgot their umbrella. The person whose umbrella just defeid it’s “windproof” sales pitch. (Perhaps we should try deliberately communal umbrellas — take a look at this outsized idea, The Big Umbrella project. The photo above is courtesy Aleksandra Mir.)

Like the kind and nameless gentleman who suggested he and I share a cab during the rush hour craze when cabs are hard to come by. We both got to get to our destinations and he certainly saved me, number two in line, a lot of stress.

Or the amazing cabby who refused to drop me off short of my destination because I discovered I didn’t have enough cash on me to pay for the entire trip.

Those are the people who you remember. Who make you feel both grateful and happy. And who inspire you to pass that goodwill on. So recently, I had the opportunity to share my portable shelter on my walking commute home with a delightful woman who turns out to live on the next block. We traded tips on the gym and the theatre, where she works. And then we parted company on the corner of 9th Avenue. And guess what, it feels even better to give than receive.

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