The kindness of strangers

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I had an appointment to meet someone on Central Park West and 66th Street (essentially across the street from the famous "Tavern on the Green" restaurant), and -- as usual -- arrived half an hour early. So I sat on a park bench, and watched a wide spectrum of humanity walk, stroll, and ride past me. Tourists, students, babysitters, friends, lovers, bicycle-powered messengers, retired people, and joggers moved past me, usually paying no attention to me at all...

I had my camera on my lap, pointed more-or-less straight ahead, with the zoom set to an 18mm wide-angle setting. With a couple of exceptions (including this photo), I didn't bother aiming, focusing, or even raising the camera to my eye; if the picture looked like it might be interesting, I just pressed the shutter button at the appropriate moment.

I took three or four pictures of this man as he navigated slowly across 66th Street on Central Park West (just behind where this picture was taken), stopping every few feet to catch his breath. When he reached a tree that's just out of sight on the right side of this picture, he decided to put his arm out and rest a while longer; you can see that in the previous picture of this sequence ...

Seeing his condition, a very nice couple approached him and asked if they could help walk him to the bus-stop, which was about twenty feet further ahead (indeed, you can see the approaching bus in the background). They helped him onto the bus, and then walked away...

And, yes, I did notice the reaction of the woman on the left side of the picture: I felt that she was demonstrating the reaction that all of us would have felt if we were there, in person, to witness this little vignette of humanity...

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Note: this photo was published in an Apr 13, 2009 blog entitled "Bold Compassion in The Jungle of Life." It was also published in a June 2009 Squidoo blog titled "Acts-of-Kindness," as well as a June 2009 Squidoo blog titled "Kindness in the World Today." More recently, it was published in an Aug 2, 2009 blog titled "Expressing the Heart’s Wisdom by Giving (Dimensions of the Heart in Yoga – Part 4)." And it was published as an illustration in a Sep 2009 Squidoo blog titled "Kindness in the World Today." It was also published in a Sep 29, 2009 blog titled "The Volunteer Wellness Effect," as well as an Oct 1, 2009 blog titled "Kind the Gap!" And I've discovered that it was published in a Sep 20, 2009 Asian blog (Japanese? Chinese? Korean? I can't tell) titled "something-something-something spiritual life begins," as well as an Apr 20, 2012 blog titled Study found that rich people tend to have less compassion mondetto.com/2012/04/20/study-found-that-rich-people-tend...

It was also published in a Nov 13, 2009 blog titled "Improve the World: See a Need and Meet It." And it was published in a Dec 8, 2009 blog titled "Random Acts of Kindness, Yahoo! Style." And I found it published in a Nov 26, 2009 blog titled "Thanksgiving All Year." It was also published in a Dec 23, 2009 blog titled "Listening part 3: Action." And it was published as an illustration in an undated (Dec 2009) Squidoo blog titled "Sweet Kindness."

Moving into 2010, the photo was published in a Jan 22, 2010 blog titled "Healthy Acts of Kindness." And it was published in a Feb 11, 2010 blog titled "Finding experts in your company." It was also published in a Feb 14, 2010 blog titled "Help Others and Help Yourself." And it was published in a Feb 26, 2010 blog titled "Caring For A Loved One With Myelodysplastic Syndromes – Part 1: Making Your Own Health A Priority." It was also published in a Mar 1, 2010 blog titled "Brunetta sul pianeta anziani “Sarà il Comune a chiamarli”." And it was published in a Mar 26, 2010 Positive Psychology News blog titled "Are You a Half-hearted or a Whole-hearted Helper?” And it was published in a Jul 12, 2010 blog titled "Study Reveals Common Features Of Long-Term Surviving Multiple Myeloma Patients (EHA 2010).” It was also published in a Jul 20, 2010 blog titled "One Small Act of Kindness Leads to Another." And it was published in a Jul 25, 2010 blog titled "Kind the Gap." It was also published in an Aug 3, 2010 blog titled "Planting Seeds: Kindness Week.” And it was published in an undated (mid-August 2010) Squidoo blog titled "Discover the uses of Adaptive clothing," and another undated (late-August) Squidoo blog titled "Acts of kindness.” It was also published in an Aug 23, 2010 blog titled "Gifts and Choices," as well as an Aug 23, 2010 blog titled "You Never Know." And it was published in a Sep 1, 2010 blog titled "i don’t want to set the world on fire –." It was also published in an Oct 6, 2010 blog titled "Caring For Someone With Multiple Myeloma – Part 3: The Toll Of Caregiving." And it was published in an Oct 7, 2010 blog titled "Help Always, Hurt Never," as well as an Oct 9, 2010 San Francisco Examiner blog titled "It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day." It was also published in an Oct 11, 2010 Women's Tuxedos blog, with the same title as the caption on this Flickr page, as well as an Oct 13, 2010 Women's Tuxedos blog that was titled "The Evil Spender Woman in All of Us." And it was published in an undated (mid-Nov 2010) Dating Advice Expert blog, titled "Relationship Advice for Men: The Ones Who Need it Most." It was also published in a Nov 18, 2010 blog titled "My Reality Show." And it was published in a Nov 24, 2010 blog titled "Thanksgiving Attitude." Also for reasons unknown to me, it was published in a Dec 18, 2010 "How to Meet Fine Women" blog titled "International dating and matchmaking website for singles seeking Chinese women from China for love, romance and marriage." And it was published in a Dec 27, 2010 blog titled "4 Easy and Effective Marketing Ideas You Should Be Doing … NOW ."

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a Feb 10, 2011 blog titled "Stories from my past: Opportunities for kindness." It was also published in a Mar 16, 2011 Onsmatch blog, with the same aption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. And it was published as an illustration in an undated (late Apr 2011) Squidoo blog titled "Acts of kind-ness." It was also published in a May 16, 2011 Plinky blog titled "A High School Class that Should be Mandatory." And it was published in an undated (early Jun 2011) blog titled "How To Be Welcome At A Blog (Or A Party)." It was also one of several photos displayed on an undated (late Jun 2011) American Senior TV Photo Credits blog page, as well as a Jul 20, 2011 blog titled "Melphalan-Prednisone-Thalidomide Combination May Increase Survival In Elderly Multiple Myeloma Patients. And it was published in an Aug 2, 2011 Cool Lover Boots images blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in an Aug 7, 2011 blog titled " Sunday Seven Day Challenge: Random Acts of Kindness."

For some unknown reason, this photo was also published as an illustration in an undated (late Aug 2011) Squidoo blog posting titled " Reasons why Modest Clothing is a Must." It was also published in a Sep 13, 2011 blog titled "Do men seek relationship advice from other men very often?" And it was published in a Sep 30, 2011 blog titled "Trust, Connectedness, and Kindness." It was also published in an Oct 13, 2011 blog titled "Why would anyone take relationship advice from a single woman under the age of 30?" And it was published in a Nov 7, 2011 blog titled "Are ethical people happier?"

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Jan 8, 2012 Finnish blog titled "Kuinka pääsen henkilökohtaiseksi avustajaksi?" It was also published in a Jan 10, 2012 Italian blog titled "Ossitocina is in the air, inspirer gentilezza." And for some reason, it was published in a Feb 7, 2012 blog titled "Secrets of Millionaire Dating." And it was published in a Feb 16, 2012 blog titled "Feb 17th will be ... random acts of kindness day." It was also published in a Mar 27, 2012 blog titled "Is Dressing an Easy Thing for the Elderly?" And it was published in an Apr 11, 2012 blog titled "I geni della gentilezza, gentili si nasce con le giuste variant ," as well as an Apr 20, 2012 bog titled "Study showed that rich people tend to have less compassion." It was also published in a Jun 5, 2012 posting on "Pam McAllister's midstream." And it was published in a Jun 22, 2012 blog titled "Which kind of millionaires from the event website do you use?" It was also published in a Jul 15, 2012 Online Dating Site Tip Info blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. And it was published in an Aug 16, 2012 Russian blog, titled "20 добрых дел, которые можно сделать сегодня." It was also published in a Sep 19, 2012 blog titled "「すいません」より「ありがとう」が多い日々を." It was also published in an Oct 5, 2012 blog titled "Going the Extra Mile." And it was published in a Dec 5, 2012 blog titled From "Tennis Player to Caregiver." It was also published in a Facebook page on Dec 30, 2012 which you can view here.

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Jan 6, 2013 blog titled "Q & A: How is your Christmas going? :)?" It was also published in a Jan 8, 2013 blog titled "Exodus Church." And it was published in a Jan 9, 2013 blog titled "Playing National God Day." It was also published in a Jan 21, 2013 blog titled "Weekly Words 1/25/13," as well as a Jan 23, 2013 blog titled "DTCM aims to boost health and wellness tourism," but also with the caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. And it was published in a Jan 24, 2013 blog titled "Make A Difference." It was also published in a Feb 3, 2013 blog titled "What's Wrong With Being Nice?" And it was published in a Feb 21, 2013 blog titled "nacin da izgradite visok moral kod deteta." It was also published in a Mar 7, 2013 blog titled "Kindness for Beginners." as well as a Mar 18, 2013 blog titled "Respect Your Elders." And it was published in an Apr 17, 2013 blog titled "Why does it take a tragedy to bring out the best in us?" It was also published in a Jun 26, 2013 blog titled "Make a Mark," as well as a Jun 28, 2013 blog titled "The Kindness of Strangers." And it was published in a Jul 6, 2013 blog titled "Compassion: A Jewish Perspective." It was also published in an undated (mid-Jul 2013) Make Friends Online UK Images blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. And it was published in an Aug 4, 2013 blog titled "New Law Helps Protect Older Adults and Disabled Persons from Financial Exploitation."

Moving into 2014, the photo was published in a Mar 21, 2014 blog titled "Coping with Alzheimer's as a caregiver." And it was published in an Apr 9, 2014 blog titled "Random Acts of Kindness Day is officially great."

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Note: on Oct 3, 2009 I made some minor edits to this photo. Primarily, I decreased the extent of shadows in the coat worn by the woman on the left, so you could see more details. There were a few other "hot spots" and "cold spots" throughout the photo that I was able to adjust, too. And I made a modest increase in the color saturation of the faces of all four individuals, as well as increasing the vibrancy of non-skin-tone colors. I do think it helps to be able to see more details of the woman's dark raincoat, but aside from that, none of these "tweaks" are particularly germane to the main emphasis of the photo...

Aniket S, XpatScot (away), and 73 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. earthpages 43 months ago | reply

    Superb photo. I like the expressions, interaction and general mood very much. Thanks for the CCL, I've blogged this here: epages.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/help-always-hurt-never/

  2. Ed Yourdon 43 months ago | reply

    Thanks! You have written a very nice blog posting; I'm very flattered that you chose to include my photograph in the blog.

  3. i.am.sceptique 42 months ago | reply

    This marked the irony of New York City. It's rare to find these kind of people doing charitable acts amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

  4. Kuchiki Byakuya2011 38 months ago | reply

    Dude... your photos and stories are always awesome! seriously!

  5. Ed Yourdon 38 months ago | reply

    Thanks - glad you're enjoying them.

  6. thewritingreader 30 months ago | reply

    Thanks for sharing this touching shot via Creative Commons. I join the long list of blogs that have used it by publishing it today at my blog here: www.thewritingreader.com/blog/2011/10/18/prompt-128-the-p...

  7. clcovin 25 months ago | reply

    Love this shot. Would like to use it to accompany a blog post titled, "Depending on the kindness of strangers" about a time when someone helped me by picking up my toddler son before he ran, unknowing, over the edge of a cement lock that had no water in it. This photo came up in my Zemanta suggestions, but it is not clear to me whether I might have permission to use it.

    I'm at newgrandmas.com

  8. Ed Yourdon 25 months ago | reply

    clcovin,

    Thanks for the kind words, and also for your interest in my work.

    This photo, and all of my other ones on Flickr, have a Creative Commons license. You are welcome to use them, without any payment or royalty or license or fee of any kind, as long as it's for a non-profit/non-commercial purpose. It certainly sounds like your blog would meet that criterion.

    If you have any questions or need any additional information, please send me a note via Flickr or directly via email at ed@yourdon.com

    Sincerely,
    Ed Yourdon

  9. kdaniell 24 months ago | reply

    Thanks again Ed for sharing your work under a Creative Commons license. This image (among many of your others) appears on "Day Without End", a music video/slideshow project about global consciousness that is freely available to all and can be seen here:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7nS33UiLXE
    Your shots make up a large contribution to the story and I hope that you enjoyed the video! Like the others, this image is credited at the end of the video indicating the image title, your Flickr account ID and your photostream link.
    All the best, -Keith

  10. Ed Yourdon 24 months ago | reply

    Keith,

    THanks for letting me know. I haven't had a chance to watch your video slideshow recently; it looks like you've been adding more and more material to it, and I'm very flattered that you have found so many of my photos to be useful for your work!

    Sincerely,
    Ed Yourdon

  11. Detelinka 20 months ago | reply

    Splendid - bravo!

  12. symphony of love 16 months ago | reply

    Absolutely love this shot! Ed, pardon me for using this at my Facebook page 'Symphony of Love' without first seeking your permission. I have used this with a quote by Amelia Mary Earhart on kindness. You can view it at: Symphony of Love. Please let me know if you do not like the use of it and I'll remove it immediately. Thank you and sorry for any inconvenience caused.

  13. Ed Yourdon 16 months ago | reply

    bkchua,

    Thanks for letting me know -- I'm delighted that the photo worked so well in your Facebook page. And yes, indeed, you certainly do have my permission to use the photo there.

    Thanks,
    Ed

  14. Ed Yourdon 15 months ago | reply

    Thanks for letting me know -- I've posted a link to your blog at the end of the somewhat lengthy notes that accompany the photo...

  15. ColleenAG 14 months ago | reply

    Thank you for letting me use your photo on my blog post: www.colleenarnold.com/blog/2013/03/07/kindness-for-beginn...

    Beautiful moment.

  16. Ed Yourdon 14 months ago | reply

    Colleen,

    Thanks for letting me know about your blog posting -- which I very much enjoyed reading!

    Cheers,
    Ed

  17. ZenAngie 10 months ago | reply

    Hi Ed. You've captured a beautiful moment here. Just wanted to let you know I've used your photo to illustrate a blog post on The Kindness of Strangers: writehealth.co.uk/the-kindness-of-strangers/ . I've credited you and put a link back to this page. Warm wishes, Angie

  18. Ed Yourdon 10 months ago | reply

    Angie,

    Thanks for your comment; I'm glad the photo played a helpful role in your blog posting -- which, by the way, I enjoyed very much. Thanks, Ed

  19. starraine 10 months ago | reply

    I love this picture and story, thank you so much for sharing. I have used it here: www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=143494459183782&set=p...

    I have credited your photo. My Facebook Page is: It’s going to be a beautiful day "Love life, Love you, Love earth" www.facebook.com/StarshaBerdashaLOVElifeLOVEyouLOVEearth

    Thank you!!! Starsha

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