One morning I was taking the # 1 NYC subway, which is a local subway, from 34th to 72nd. Normally I take the express but, for some reason, I’d chosen not to on this particular day. So, there I was, on the train, just listening to my music on my iPhone and kind of looking around when I noticed a woman on board with what appeared to be her two daughters.
Moments later, the train stops and I see the woman and two girls, who were maybe nine or ten years old, get up and get off. I reflexively looked back to where they were sitting and noticed an iPhone with no one around it, obviously mistakenly left behind.
They were already on the platform walking away, so I grabbed the phone, exited the train, and started yelling, “Miss! Miss! Miss!” Eventually the woman turned around and saw that I had her daughter’s iPhone in my hand. She made her way back to me, I handed it over, and she said thank you before I turned around and got back on the train.
As the doors started to close in preparation for our departure, I said something about it being a “New York Moment” and how this should go in the New York Times Metropolitan Diary, a local publication that often shares New York stories. Realistically, that wasn’t my goal; I simply felt good about reuniting the cell phone with child and I wanted to share that feeling with others.
Just then, a woman comes to me and I notice that she has a notepad in her hands. She then proceeds to tell me how she is going to make that happen – she was going to write up a piece and submit it to the Metropolitan Diary. I kind of laughed and told her that the story should be titled something like “Dashing Young Man Saves iPhone,” but in talking to her, I learned that she was serious. She was actually a writer who had already published like 16 books, and she wanted me to be in her next piece.
Certainly, I absolutely appreciated that this woman wanted to tell the world about my good deed. However, I shared with her that, while I knew how horrible it would be for that young girl to lose her phone, the bigger piece was how I felt about myself by taking action. In that mini-second when I noticed the phone had been left behind, I had two choices. I could’ve done nothing and let the train doors close, risking that someone else would pick up the phone with no intention of reuniting it with its rightful owner, or I could take action. I chose the second and it felt really, really good.
This situation also taught me that you never know who’s watching you, your actions, and also your inactions. Take the right action and you may even inspire someone else to do the same. Whether someone writes about you and shares what you did with millions of others or they simply take a mental note and tell their family and friends what they witnessed earlier that day, it may help someone else take the necessary steps the next time they’re faced with a similar choice. Either way, it’s a win-win.