One day last month I decided to complete a few evening home visits to try and catch clients who were only home after 5pm. I booked an agency car, confirmed the visits with foster parents, and mentally prepared myself to get home at 11pm yet again. And then everything went south- and fast.
A co-worker signed out the car I reserved and was expected to bring it back in time for my use but she called to tell me that she was in upstate New York and wouldn’t make it in time. I decided to take public transportation. Usually I try and take public transportation when possible for my visits (who wants to hunt down parking in NYC?) but I was doing late visits- one of which was in Yonkers- and desperately needed a car. These visits needed to get done somehow so I set out on foot, first two locations in the Bronx, and the last one in Yonkers.
I got lost. I walked around in circles and was clearly an outsider in the neighborhood. It was particularly cold, windy, pouring rain and to be honest I was getting ticked off. So I found myself in a small bodega, clothing soaked, and asking the owner for directions. He was very kind and repeated the directions to make sure I understood. Then I set out again but hit a wall- literally- where I was supposed to go straight. I looked around and saw a man with his headphones in, hooded sweatshirt on, walking quickly; did I mention that it was night? I found myself loudly yelling EXCUSE ME until he stopped. He was also very kind, and showed me that I needed to climb a set of stairs to get past the wall and onto the street I needed. Now some people may have been initially intimidated, or even afraid, of stopping someone in an unfamiliar neighborhood in the evening, but I put my reservations aside and was helped by a friendly person.
After my first two visits, I waited for Metro North to take me to Yonkers. By this point it was nearly 6:30pm, bitter cold because of the rain, and very dark. The train arrived but on the wrong track and whizzed by me and two other passengers who were patiently waiting. At this point I nearly broke down; this job had me trekking all over New York City, arriving home at ridiculously late hours, and in areas where I sometimes questioned if I would be safe. Now it was getting late, my hands were freezing, and the freaking train just passed me although I was waiting for 30 minutes; man, I was frustrated! Just then, a young man began talking to me and shared in my frustration about missing the train. We chatted for a while and I explained that I needed to get off in Yonkers but had no way of getting to my client’s house. He searched on his phone and got me some Yonkers cab company phone numbers. He went even further and answered all of my questions: what other train lines I could take to get to Yonkers; how much the cab would probably cost; if staff would be working at the train station.
When I arrived in Yonkers I was picked up by a cabbie named Ramon who gave me his direct number so I could call him to come back and get me when my home visit was over. Ramon even gave me a discount and took some $ off my fare. On my way home to Jersey I thought of my day and how I was helped by so many different people. It was a pretty frustrating day on top of a frustrating week, but help from those strangers made me feel better. Sometimes it really is the little things that get you through when things seem to be falling apart.