An Apology

Stepping off the Q train the other day, a sharp pain of guilt hit me in my stomach. In getting up, walking towards the door, and exiting the train, I realized that I might not be as good of a person that I thought I was. That’s because in getting up, walking, and exiting, I noticed this old lady standing near where I was sitting. I don’t remember her getting on the stop before, or even the one before that. She must have gotten on well before my stop, standing there, while I was sitting. The sharp sudden pain of guilt came to me because I didn’t do anything about it.

There may have been other seats available on the train, it wasn’t that crowded. She might not have even wanted to sit. Maybe she really did just get on the stop before. But these are all just rationalizations. In reality, what had happened was I was so immersed in whatever music I was listening to, in whatever book I was reading, that the thought never even came for me to exercise some common courtesy and offer her my seat.

In writing, it seems like an insignificant occurrence. It happens everyday. People don’t get seats. It’s a tough city, New York. She’s probably used to it. But in its insignificance, I’m reminded by how tough of a city it can be. So why shouldn’t we help each other out?

Being a student in the city, being a student everywhere, being a person, even, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own mind. There are deadlines, and books, and jobs, and music, and relationships, and movies, and friends, and emails, and everything else the day-to-day offers us, making it easy to not notice the people that surround us. It’s easy to ignore the guy looking for food in the trash. It’s easy to ignore the lady collecting cans off the street. It’s easy to ignore the old lady standing on the subway.

But that doesn’t mean we should. Now, I’m not saying we should all drop what we’re doing and start committing our lives to charity. What I am saying is that, we should lay our hurried minds to rest every once and a while, and notice the seemingly minuscule things around us. Plug out and zone into the world surrounding us, and see that apathy isn’t necessarily a sin of commission. More often than not, it’s a sin of omission, a sin of people trying too hard to live their own lives without thinking about making it just a little easier for other people to live theirs.

To the old lady on the Q, I’m sorry.

-Andrew Limbong

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