Small acts of kindness in Oakland

13 Aug

Yesterday evening was beautiful. I walked out of my office and down 14th Street, admiring soft sunlight bathing the Tribune building and enjoying the warm breeze. As I approached Broadway, a woman pointed towards Franklin and asked me if that was the way to 12th Street. I reoriented her and helped her find her destination, and she thanked me.

I turned the corner to walk to the 1/1R stop and immediately noticed a man at the 72 bus shelter shouting. Though I tried, I could not make out any of his words and had no idea what he was shouting about. I waited for the bus and mostly tuned out his shouting, letting my mind instead focus on the traffic moving by, which was a mix of cars, buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists – exactly as it should be.

The 1 pulled up, and since I didn’t want to get on, I stepped back. As the bus was about to pull away,  a man came sprinting down the sidewalk shouting and pleading for the bus driver to wait. Already in motion, the bus driver stopped the bus and opened the doors. The man seemed very grateful.

A couple minutes later, the 1R pulled up, and I walked towards it. An elderly lady with a cart was slowly making her way off the bus. The man who had been incoherently shouting just a few moments earlier asked her quietly if she needed help. She accepted with a smile, and he picked her cart up and put it on the sidewalk for her.

With all the negative news we hear about Oakland every day and with all the complaining from residents and merchants, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are a lot of kind people in Oakland, willing to lend a hand. Even if it’s something as simple as giving directions, stopping the bus, or helping someone off the bus, those small acts of kindness to strangers are part of what makes Oakland such a wonderful city.

One Response to “Small acts of kindness in Oakland”

  1. Evan Hamilton August 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    Amen! I had a great experience on Broadway last night too…some incredibly drunk dude physically ran into me and my girlfriend. A (very large) passerby instantly came over to back us up (though I think the drunk dude was too drunk to do much) and within 30 seconds the police pulled up and gently led the guy into their car.

    Sure, it’s a little less of a happy story, but I was thrilled to feel so supported by neighbors and the police (who I am not always thrilled with). We take care of each other in Oakland.

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