The Kindness of Strangers

way back then
when no one knew
the world would crack the next day,
we stood there,
tourist trappings wrapped around us
'howdy' I said, that quiet night on the subway.
late ride home, guest of the nephew,
no one but he, myself, and daughter, it seemed.
(surely there were others).
"We're from Seattle," I announced,
including my girl
with the sweep
of my hand. 
"Visiting him....."
towards the nephew.

"My name's Peter. I'm a writer,"
he replied.
'Who do write for?'
'A magazine--Newsweek...'
and me so impressed, not by his job
but his niceness in New York
that carried over to the exchanged emails
and the phone call I got to make the few days later
when, safely arrived at home, across miles of mayhem
and madness
I reached through, asked for him,
and heard him say, "Seattle?--how are you?"
and he cared with his questions and I in turn with mine.
He was okay....recovering in the City that had been incinerated.
We were safe at home (physically) but the mental and emotional
healing would take many, many months.
Years. (and there would be scars).
His concern helped.

Forget everything you've ever heard about the
fright of traveling underground in those lightless places
New York--London--Tokyo
perilously passing you through the layers underneath--
there are people kind, open, friendly,
and no matter where you are
we are all the same--
especially on the subway.

Jody Lee Collins c. 2012

This is a poem about the night before September 11th.
You can read what I wrote afterwards here.


  1. love the moral of this as it is so true...and how cool you reached out after the sad day to touch him once more...i love meeting people...and met some pretty amazing new yorkers while i was there just recently...

    1. Brian, I'm guessing you are a blessing to the people you meet. Sounds like you're a bit of a traveler, whatever it is that you do.... :-)thanks for the kind words.
      Be safe.

  2. wow..what a cool story...and yes...i agree...we are all the same...esp. on the subway where you can come so close for a few stations...nice..

    1. come so close for a few stations....that's a perfect way to put it. Thank you for stopping by, Claudia.
      p.s. how many cities' subways have you been on, by the by?

  3. It is so true. There are so many good people in the world, sadly only the bad news sells.
    This was a lovely encounter and told with great imagery too.

  4. Very nice...its true I have received kindness from strangers. Specially when there is an accident or a train jam or lull ~ I just close my eyes to the rude commuters ~

    1. 'closing my eyes to the rude commuters'--I like that. we can choose to rejoice or sing even, perhaps. thanks for your kind words.

  5. Wow! What a fresh and delightful view of something normally not seen in this light! Very nice, Jody Lee! I like it a lot!

  6. This really moved me. Well done!

    1. well, thank you. It just sorta poured out as I closed my eyes and re-imagined the night....

  7. really nice job Jody. I like the snapshot scene angle you went with. It worked very nicely. Thanks

  8. Nice to know there are some friendly people left in NYC! Being a jaded transplant here, I would be suspicious of a stranger being friendly :P