SEF – New York’s Good Samaritan

  • Sometimes, on a seemingly ordinary day, something can happen that really strikes you.  This recently happened to me and I wanted to share with you all.

    On the afternoon of Thursday, September 20th I found myself with some free time in between an acting audition and a new teaching gig at a public school on the Lower East Side.  Since teaching children takes crazy energy, I decided to recharge at the Starbucks on Astor Pl and Lafayette. I ordered my regular tall caramel macchiato and like always, forgot to order it iced.  I had to ask the Barista to change it and he said “What am I supposed to do with the hot one?”  I gave a witty reply as usual, and told him he could scratch my name off and write “free drink” so someone with no money could have it and it wouldn’t be wasted.  He laughed, replaced my drink and said “Good one Kendell.”

    I found an empty seat near the window and set up shop.  I pulled out my phone and my iPad and got busy reviewing the lesson plan for my first day of class.  I was in the zone, focused on my technology and paying little attention to the environment around me.  I barely even noticed the gentleman in a suit who sat down in between myself and another man on his laptop. I didn’t pay him any mind because he seemed like any other Starbucks customer, just taking a break.

    So this is where this quick moment of Good Samaritanism happened.  Right now we have myself, the man in the suit and next to him is another guy working on his laptop.  Behind us are two women in deep conversation.

    Out of the corner of my eye I saw the suited gentleman get up to exit the Starbucks.  The laptop guy says “What are you doing?  Bring that back!”  I look up out of curiosity but don’t want to be distracted or nosy so I get back to work on my iPad.  The man in the suit returns to his seat and I can’t help but overhear him say “You should mind your business to the guy on the laptop.  He replies “You know its’s wrong.  Put that back.”  The suited man put something down and exits the Starbucks.  I begin paying better attention to the man on the laptop as he explains to the chatty woman behind us that the man who just left had taken her wallet out of her bag and tried to leave with it.  She was shocked and thanked him profusely.  I was shocked too!  How could I have been sitting right there and not seen that happen?  I was so focused on my own stuff that I didn’t even notice.  The women were so deep in conversation that they didn’t notice him taking the bag OR putting it back.

    After a while, I introduced myself to the man on the laptop, Sef.  I commended him on what he had just done and continued to converse with him.  He happened to be a visual artist and I am a dancer so we exchanged cards and I told him I wanted to blog about what had just happened.  He even allowed me to take his picture, which you should see above.

    On my way to teach I tried to understand why I felt so affected by the incident I had just witnessed.  Some people might say writing about such a simple incident is silly but I think there is a lot to be learned from it.  I think seeing Sef do a genuinely good deed, for which there was no return was refreshing.  I wanted to spotlight him for this because I believe that the majority of folks these days would just go about their business and allow something like this to happen because they are afraid or because we feel so disconnected from one another that we may not feel it is our place to help.

    This brings light to the fact that we were all so wrapped up in our own lives we didn’t even notice the man robbing her.  In New York and with so much access to technology, it is so easy to close yourself off to interaction and exist in your own bubble.  After witnessing this, I am going to make an effort to be more aware of what goes on around me and to be open to interaction, whether it is verbal or just a smile, with others.

    Finally, an obvious lesson we can learn from this is that these kinds of things can happen to anybody at any place and at any time of day.  One would think Astor Place in broad daylight is about as safe as it gets in New York.  Yet, a man was thieving in Starbucks.  Be watchful of your belongings and make safe choices all the time.  You never know who is sitting right next to you.  Thanks for reading.

    Below is a picture of our pickpocket victim (to the right) leaving Starbucks to continue her conversation BUT happily with her wallet intact. 🙂

Leave a Reply

* Name, Email, and Comment are Required