Saturday, December 12, 2015

Trust Jam


A couple years ago, I went on a lovely trip to Copenhagen.

One highlight of the trip was taking a train and walking past houses en route to Louisiana, the art museum (see photo above for the scenic landscape). While walking, we came across a beautiful home with an inviting, open mailbox. The mailbox contained several jars of homemade jam, painstakingly crafted and labeled. There was also note explaining how the jam was made, a price, and a jar to place money in if one wanted to make a purchase. At first, I couldn't believe how quaint it felt. There had to be hundreds of visitors walking by each day. I assumed they got ripped off on the daily and felt sorry for them, like someone should teach them common sense and how to run a business.

Later in the trip, we sat out for beers at an outdoor bar in the square. It was starting to get cold, and one of the employees walked over to a stack of blankets that were brought outside. He didn't bolt up the extras or bring them inside for safe-keeping, but left them out. Patrons grabbed blankets as they needed then returned them afterwards. No one took any, as far as I could tell.

Once I was expecting to see it, I was primed for seeing it all around; there were small examples of trust and kindness everywhere I looked. When I got back to NYC, I stopped looking for it and allowed my expectations to shift downward. While the per capita Trust Jam in NYC is lower than places like Copenhagen (in my humble and only semi-informed opinion), it still exists. But if you don't allow yourself to see it, you'll continue thinking that New Yorkers are, on the whole, jerks and only in it for themselves.

Lesson #66: Each of us has the ability to impart Trust Jam on those around us. When asked for directions, I can answer with a nod and be on my way, or I can give directions with a smile and a "have a nice day." When I see someone injured on the street, I can walk away to ensure my safety or I can wait until the assailant moves on and go back to see if I can help (true and recent story; though I reallllly wanted to walk away, I didn't - the poor 20 year old kid had blood coming out of his mouth after getting punched twice by a random dude asking him for money. Maybe if I was a large man I might take the chance to try to break up a fight but I know my stature isn't exactly imposing). After all, Trust Jam is not just the people who don't screw you over, but the people who take a chance on being kind in the first place.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Rat City

You know it's time for a vacation when you and your yoga instructor swap horror stories about the rat invasions in the east village, then instead of departing with a solemn "Namaste," you wish her a merry and rat-free day.

And with that, we're off to sunshine, hikes, nature, and animals that aren't rats. I love this city, but damn it feels good to leave.

Lesson #65: there's nothing funnier than watching someone waiting for brunch at Prune spot a rat scurrying inches away from an omelet. One thing I've learned is that there are no dainty mice on the east side, only the hardiest of rats. Maybe they're slowing down the gentrification of the east village? Nah, it'd take rats in someone's omelet to do that.