I was walking across terminal four of JFK waiting at the arrivals lounge for my mom. An old Russian man (I think he was Russian, could have been from anyplace in central Europe really) came up to me brandishing a dollar and asked me in broken English if I had change. I didn't, and I told him so, and prepared to walk off but I couldn't help but sympathize with the look of utter confusion on his face. I asked him if he needed help, and he said he needed to make a phone call. I once again almost apologized for not having any change and walked off, except something stopped me and I offered my cell phone to make a call for whoever he was waiting for. He thanked me profusely, gave me a local number and held a short one minute conversation with someone on the other line in rapid language I couldn't understand. As he spoke I noticed that his age-wrinkled hand shook as he held the phone up to his ear, another testament to his age. He quickly finished his conversation and handed me back my phone with and thanked me again with a look of utter relief on his face. I told him he was very welcome, wished him a good day and moved on.
Helping out an old man in need was such a little thing, I should not have had to think three times before offering him my cell phone. I should not have had to deal with the niggling fear of who he may be, who he may be calling, what he may be saying. Is he a terrorist? Will somebody be listening in to this conversation? Will I be hauled off to Gauntanamo for suspected collaboration?
And the realization of exactly how low humanity has fallen struck me just then. The extent to which we have entrangled ourselves in a web of mutual mistrust and hatred. And the fact that most of what we do is out of self-preservation, and the fact that in order to preserve our selves we feel the need to victimize others is utterly pathetic in itself. It's a cruel world we live in, lovelies, and made crueller still by people like me who think three times before offering a single gesture of kindness. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. And of the world we live in today.