It was a scene at New York's Penn Station last Saturday. All the trains were late because of the blizzard to the south. No one was smiling and a lot of people were just standing by the big board with the word "DELAYED" next to most trains' departure times.
An hour late, the Northeast Regional to Boston boarded. People were just taking their seats when a young black man, maybe 25 at most, walked into our car. "Please," he said in a somewhat desperate voice. "Can someone give me $11.25? I've missed three trains already because I'm short. I have to get home. I'm not a bum. Can you please give me $11.25?"
I couldn't quite understand the circumstances but as I fumbled to pull out some money, the man, white, taking the seat across the aisle had already reached into his pocket and given the younger man a $20. "God bless. Thank you," he said and he was off the train.
I wondered about the man across from me for the rest of the ride. He didn't polish his fingernails on his chest as if he'd done something important. He didn't even discuss it with the woman he was traveling with. They just settled in, talking, her working, him reading, a lovely couple perhaps in their early fifties.