“Do you have an umbrella?”


I, as someone who obses­sively refreshes the Weather Channel widget on my phone to know the most current weather and forecast, had somehow missed the widely pre­dicted downpour that began during this Thursday’s morning commute.

Looking out the windows of the train car, I could see what began as a gentle drizzle steadily increasing to a massive deluge as I got closer to my stop.

The kind gen­tleman (whom I had smiled at when first boarding the train eight stops ago) standing with me in the metro car as we pulled into the station where we both hap­pened to be dis­em­barking was looking at me with genuine concern. And then a beau­tiful thing hap­pened:

“Here. Take mine. I’ll use my hood.”

I looked down to see a black Gap umbrella extended in my direction.

After being warned repeatedly about the mean spirits and unkind nature of all DC folk, here I was being offered an umbrella by a com­plete stranger on a DC metro train. I refused it at first, but — let’s be honest — I did not want to show up to work sporting the wet-dog look.

Those five words uttered by that man lend cre­dence — and perhaps even proof — to a theory I’ve been devel­oping since I arrived in D.C. for the Wash­ington Hillsdale Internship Program: people are gen­erally only as kind as you are willing to let them be.

So often before moving to the “big city,” I was told to keep my eyes down, avoid inter­action with basi­cally everyone I did not know, and assume every person was a drug-addicted mur­derer.

To con­sis­tently assume the worst in everyone you see is not only an exhausting endeavor, but it is also an inher­ently unpro­ductive venture.  Sure, there are some ter­ri­fying people who do not have my best interests at heart roaming these streets, but I’d venture to say a majority of my fellow city-dwellers are good people.

Saying “good morning,” smiling, or even a simple nod of acknowl­edgment can be the dif­ference between showing up to work drenched or being offered an umbrella by a stranger simply looking out for his fellow com­muter.