My Metro North train Sunday night was packed tight with weary, sleepy-eyed, overstuffed New Yorkers headed home after a long Thanksgiving weekend. A delay was the last thing any of us travelers needed, but in ironic fashion, the train came to a screeching halt right before the Westport station. A collective sigh blew through the car as the conductor alerted us that we’d be here for a while.
One extra irritated passenger picked up her phone and started yelling at someone I assumed was her mother. “This is all of your fault! Why couldn’t you just have driven me!” she hissed. The conductor came over the intercom again, “We may have hit a trespasser on the tracks. The police are taking the necessary protocol. We can not move this machine until they’ve completed their search.” I hope they’re alright, I thought to myself as I exchanged worried looks with other passengers. The Grinch of a woman behind me continued to whine and berate her poor mother.
The man sitting in front of me started panicking. I had faintly overheard him earlier speaking about his wife’s cancer treatment to a stranger sitting across from him. Now though, his tone was different, “My wife is dying, I need to get to her. The doctors said she has 24 hours left. I’m stuck on this train during the last moments of my wife’s life.” My heart sunk and I felt my throat tighten as I sat helplessly listening to this man. The kind stranger next to him provided counsel and called his pastor to say a prayer for his wife. I thought to myself, selfishly maybe, I hope that angry woman heard- maybe she wouldn’t feel so bad for herself.
After an anxious hour, the train rolled forward, no one had been hit. One life was spared that evening and maybe one lost. I hoped he had made it to his wife. As I pulled into the station I was unable to complain about the inconvenience I had experienced, I was just thankful.
The holidays can feel self-indulgent, crazy, stressful and even inconvenient. It’s easy to get lost in all of it, but every once in awhile it’s important to pump the breaks and be grateful. Sitting next to you on any given train is someone less fortunate than you. Remember what this season is about and give what you can to everyone around you- a gift, a smile, a donation, an ear- anything.
In honor of #GivingTuesday and an unexpected train delay, we’re celebrating some of our favorite charities. Donate this season to one of these great organizations or one dear to your own heart.
By Tess McCurdy