untold

The kindness of strangers is a source of joy for me. It can completely turn my (bad) day around. Making a small connection with someone - a brief exchange of politeness, an unnecessary extension of consideration, even a passing smile - is like seeing a beacon in the dark. Hey, hello. It's a rough, ugly world, huh? I feel it, too. It's a secret, whispered. Psst, you. You and I get it. Feels good, right? To slow down and just enjoy being a social animal for a minute or two?

Often I am surprised by someone's kindness. That's the best. The intimidating, bored-looking Kinko's employee who I am sure is fed up with my repeated ineptitude at the fax machine (I've been there three times in one day, each time misdialing or requiring his assistance) suddenly announces to no one in particular that he can't wait to go home, kick his feet up, and have a bowl of ice cream. I glance around the store. There's no one else in it. He's talking to me. My anxiety and embarrassment over looking like a Luddite melt away, and I smile at him. "Yeah? What kind of ice cream are you gonna have?" A minute later, I'm showing him cute puppies in my Instagram feed.

Or the overnight security guard, on watch over the racks and piles of filming equipment, who reacts with delight when Chaucer noses up to him where he sits. It's two am and there's not another soul around. The next thing I know, he's pulling out his phone to show me the Shih Tzu puppies his wife just bred.

Puppies seem to be a theme here.

Sometimes I think living in downtown has made me fall a little bit in love with people. I want to be around them all the time. The more average and boring their jobs seem to be, the more respect I have for them - and the more I want to draw them out and hear about their lives. I would love to do a creative project, about the people who work here, in the heart of the city. One part photographic, one part written. Where do they come from every day? What do they do, every night when they leave? I think sometimes there's a sense that downtown "belongs" to the people that actually live here - or even to the white-collar professionals who spend their well-heeled days in the city.

But I bet there are probably some very fascinating untold stories, on these streets. I just don't know if I'm the person anyone wants to tell them to.