This I Believe

Matthew - Briarcliff manor, New York
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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“A Spoon Full of Sugar”

After scouring the airport for a free outlet, desperate to charge my exhausted ipod, I surrender and return to my gate. Sitting to my left is mom, deeply entangled in another book, and to my right, a lonely, seemingly hermetic, traveler. Jet lagged and dazed, worn out from an exhausting weekend with my entire family, three time zones and six hours away, I meet Steven, a total stranger.

Reading the despair in my eyes and seeing the ipod nested in my lap, he knows exactly what is going on. He delicately extracted his computer from his carry on bag, and I handed him my ipod without saying a word. Everyone knows that a computer can charge an ipod twice as fast as an outlet.

I believe that the kindness of a stranger can make somebody’s day, cheer them up, put a smile on their face, and if it lasts just two seconds, it’s worth it.

Standing a mere five feet tall and wearing his treasured black Barry Manilow NASCAR style jacket, Steven, it turned out, was not the quiet traveler that I had expected, and when I told him that I was from New York, everything changed. In a high pitched, Texan voice, you know, the kind you hear at a rodeo (yeeHaaa), he yelled “I luuuve your’r city! The people are so friendly! And I thought that I had seen a city before!”

He explained to me that at the age of 56, two months earlier, he and his daughter had first visited our city. I must say though, I was a little confused: the people so friendly?

A little bit later he told me that on that trip to New York, he and his daughter had seen the Broadway show Mary Poppins, and consequently fell in love with Mary. After the show, Steven and his daughter waited outside the theater for her to leave, and when she came out, she signed an autograph, took a picture (the one he had as his background) and talked to him for about three minutes.

I believe that it’s just those three minutes, a fraction of one’s, day that it takes to make somebody happy, put a smile on their face, and in Steven’s case, make him fall in love with NYC.

In those three minutes that Mary spoke with him something magical happened, something that seemed simple, a stranger talking to another.

By talking to Steven and his daughter for that tiny amount of time, she made them feel special. What seemed to her like a fraction of her day, made Steve fall in love with the “kind hearted people” of NYC who actually “take the time to talk.”

Mary Poppins, the epitome of a stranger who is capable of spreading joy, has a unique ability. She charmed a family’s unhappy father, put a smile on the faces of both his children, and made the day of a lonely, seemingly hermetic man of many jobs. Steven said that her friendliness touched his heart.