Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 

Public transportation offers passages into a myriad of worlds – some familiar, some not; some good, some bad; some just confusing.

A couple sat in front of me on the el, conspiring to come up with a subject the man could use to evoke an argument with his current live-in girlfriend – an argument that would justify the man packing his clothes and moving out. I wondered if this (new) girlfriend seated next to him gave any thought to the possibility that this man might do the same thing to her.

A bumpy ride in the future, perhaps? Oh well, love is … blind (deafening? numbing?).

Three male friends stood on the el platform on Good Friday discussing their plans for Easter. One of the men, when asked whether or not he had purchased Easter gifts for his kids, said that his kids would not be with him for the weekend, so he hadn’t been pressured into buying anything yet.

The train arrived, and the men and I entered the same car. I sat a few rows away from them with my back to them. They continued their conversation about Easter plans. Man #2 didn’t offer much as far as his plans, but he and Man #1 interrogated Man #3 about his plans.

I couldn’t hear exactly what Man #3’s plans were, but one of the men responded with, “So those flowers you have are for your mother?”

“No,” Man #3 said. “These are for one of my neighbors. Remember I told you about the woman that’s been so mean to me that lives on the floor above me? Well, she has cancer now and a couple of weeks ago she fell down the stairs and broke her (foot).”

One of the men asked, “So … you’re giving flowers to someone who’s been mean to you?”

“Yeah,” laughed Man #3, “I figured I’d kill her with kindness.” The other men laughed too but then commented on how they thought it was really great for Man #3 to be kind to her.

I thought so, too.

Man #3 had taken us on a thoughtful journey.

I was standing at the CTA fare box with my hand rummaging around in my coat pocket, trying to dislodge my CTA pass. A man who was just about to exit the turnstile stopped and said to me, “Do you need help getting on the train?”

His comment jarred me. I thought: Am I looking that decrepit that this young man thinks I need to be assisted to the train? Then I saw that he had pulled out his billfold and opened it and had his hand poised to remove something. For goodness sake, the dear man thought I didn’t have the fare for the train. As a late neighbor of mine used to say, “If that don’t take all.”

“Ohhh,” I all but sang. “That is soo sweet of you, but I’m okay. I was just trying to take out my fare card. But thaank you soo much for being soo kind.”

The man put his billfold back in his pocket and exited the turnstyle. We wished each other a great day. I smiled as I thought, What a surprising and wonderful journey into kindness.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...