How To Be Helpful, 3 Snapshots from a Day

Today was a day much like any other. I went to work, grabbed dinner with a friend, and walked home from the train in the waning sunlight. But this day contained 3 interactions, noteworthy in their ordinariness, that make it stand out as a good blind travel day. I met 3 strangers who were pleasant exceptions to the code of help.

Stranger one approached me after I crossed a street a couple blocks from work. “Hi, there’s a lot of foot traffic on this block, would you like to walk with me?” I knew immediately what she was referring to, a monthly daytime event that fills an entire block with long lines, booths, and people walking in random directions. I accepted her polite offer, took her arm, and we walked together for a block, introducing ourselves, and chatting about our careers and the neighborhood. I have previously navigated this event many times on my own, but because help was respectfully offered, I opted to spare myself the navigational complexity and enjoy the chat. The key here is that help was offered. The woman was neither flustered nor insistent, and I could have declined her offer without a fuss just as easily as I accepted it.

Stranger two saved me the inconvenience of missing a train. I was hunched over my smart phone like your average American commuter, reading tweets and ignoring most everything else. If there was an announcement that my train would be arriving on the opposite platform from its standard location, I missed it entirely. A man quickly tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention, “you take the Such and Such train, right? It’s behind you.” I thanked him and turned around to catch the train, glad that he hadn’t felt the need to tug me toward the door, he was simply a fellow commuter offering useful information.

Stranger three made me happy by offering no help at all. We were crossing a busy street at the same time, when he turned in my direction and said, “Hi, how are you today?” I’m pretty great, stranger friend three, thanks for asking.


  1. Kim

    Ah, the pleasant kind of help! Great follow-up post with terrific examples. Glad you had such pleasant interactions. The kind of help I love! *smile*

  2. mathieu

    Yes, it is good to read this. Thinking back, I have probably violated the code on some occasions, inadvertently though.

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