that innate quality

Nice moment on the train home tonight.

An elderly woman was stepping into the car just as the doors were closing, and the rolling cart she pulled behind her got caught on the wrong side. Those doors aren't super sensitive to obstructions, and they don't bounce back as readily as they should--her cart was stuck outside and it didn't look like anything was going to prevent it from being ripped away in another second or two.

Several people sprang into action: a man who'd boarded at the previous station with his little girl, a pair of chatty middle-aged women sitting with a group of five of six others, and a kid in Converse and headphones who moments before had been nodding away to his music.

The whole thing was over in a flash. A flurry of arms and legs, a short burst of alarm noise. Strangers who act on instinct and that innate quality of human compassion. Next thing you know the woman is sitting safely in her seat, looking around at us with a grateful smile. I briefly locked eyes with the father whose daughter had watched the scene standing stock-still. The train car was silent for a moment, catching its breath, before we burrowed further into the night. Back to our homes and our loves, back to our jobs and our worries, back to whatever things would divide us from one another once more.