On my lunch break today at work, I decided to run out and grab a sandwich from the shop across the street. It was a lovely spring day. The sun was shining and the breeze was crisp, but warm. Amazing for an April afternoon.
I ran down the back stairway from the plaza surrounding the building and waited to cross Kinzie Avenue. Traffic was brisk, and the construction dust from Trump Tower was blowing in my direction. I could smell it– a mixture of concrete, wood and sweat– along with the fresh spring air.
As I got to the other corner and waited for the cross traffic to stop at State Street, I heard a crashing noise. It wasn’t a car; it sounded like a bike falling– hard. I quickly looked to my right and saw a commotion in front of the parking garage entrance.
A bike messenger had collided with a vehicle. I could see the messenger getting up off the ground and picking up his bike. He appeared to be okay, but his bike didn’t fare so well. The front tire was bent and the frame was out of whack. Two cars were stopped around the bike– one in front, and one in back. The drivers of the vehicles– both women– got out and began talking to the bike rider and each other.
I couldn’t figure out who hit whom, but it appeared that the woman in front of the messenger, who was driving a minivan or an SUV of some sort, was the one who made contact with him. As I crossed State Street to go to the sandwich shop, I thought I saw them arguing. “Oh great,” I thought, “another drama scene.”
The cashier and manager of the sandwich shop were standing outside, watching the commotion when I reached the store. When I walked in, they both retreated to their positions. I ordered my sandwiches (one for me and one for my co-worker), and asked the cashier if she saw the accident happen. She said she heard the crash but didn’t see it– essentially the same thing I saw.
I glanced at the scene a few times from inside the store. I could see the messenger making a call on his cell phone and at one point saw him sitting on the curb next to his ruined bike, looking dejected. Meanwhile, the woman in the minvan/SUV was still nearby.
And then, as I was leaving the shop with my sandwiches, the most amazing thing happened.
The woman in the minivan/SUV, who had been talking to the bike messenger the whole time I was in the store, helped him load his damaged bike into her vehicle. He then got in the passenger seat and they drove away.
And I stood there, amazed at what I had just witnessed.
Human beings acting like human beings. A random act of kindness. Right there, in the middle of the day, on State Street, before my very eyes.
And I smiled, and felt just a little warmer inside, as I returned to the office and continued my work day. Isn’t it wonderful to be reminded that there are still good people in the world?