NYC 2010, Lending a Hand

Posted By on June 22, 2010

Jing Wen and I exited a subway and headed for the stairs. Something caught his attention and he slowed down. I noticed everyone else in the subway were also looking at something. I turned but saw nothing. Then I looked on the ground and there on the New York #6 Subway train platform of Canal Street Station was a little grey bird with bright yellow downy feathers on his head. The feathers on it’s body were puffed up and it limped around in circles.

I was conflicted. A true New Yorker would never touch anything in public if she could help it. Not the banisters by the stairs, not the nobs on doors and you never ever pick up anything from the ground. And here was this helpless creature standing next to it’s own poo and I want to pick it up.

What am I going to do with it? What kind of help can I give it? Wasn’t I on my way to visit ground zero? Questions wheeled around my head and before I could answer any of them, I passed my bag to Jing Wen and scooped it up into my hands.

Get it out of the subway.

Find help.

A block from the station was a security guard. I told him what happened. That is not a pigeon, he said.

He suggested calling 311 for the city and I did. I found out the location of a humane society in the upper east side. My head started to calculate which trains to take and stop to get off. A woman who had been standing around witnessing all this mentions she lived 5 blocks from there and offered to bring it there for me.

We agreed. The security guard brought out a box and they were gone.

The next day, we did go to visit ground zero and the memorial for the people who died at the World Trade Center. I was particularly taken with the section of the memorial where they let you listen to the stories of those to survived and the families of those who died.

The story that had me riveted was one of a mother telling the story of her son and his connection to 9/11. “He was going into the (police) station to hand in his badge.” She said, her voice quivering. “He was retiring.” Witnesses said he heard the rumble and knew something terrible was happening. He said he wanted his badge back, just for today.

March 2002, his mother receives a phone call that her son’s badge was found in the rubble of the WTC.

I stood there sobbing for a long time.

There are times in life when we need to choose between what we know is normal and comfortable, and what is right in our hearts. Whether big or small, the difference we make when we give echos across time and space.

About The Author

I am a Chinese-American mother of three boys, parenting with the traditions worth keeping from the East and West. I continue to learn new ways of raising a family and myself.


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