A neighborly experience of Rome

Last Thursday I had to head into the city for some blood work (nothing serious) and I was struck by how despite being in a big city you could still see strangers showing the kindness of neighbors. I headed into town on the 246 bus. It was rush hour, and a mother got on the bus with her two young children to take them to school. As soon as the door opened a gentleman behind me greeted them like old friends and they settled around him and chatted as the bus continued along its route. The family got off on the next stop and they all wished each other a good day.

In the waiting room at the lab an elderly lady who seemed a little bewildered went in ahead of me, and while she was inside her husband arrived with a newspaper (I had seen them enter when I’d entered the building) and asked a young couple waiting there to make sure she got the paper when the lady came out; it turned out she had multiple appointments that day. When she came out, escorted by one of the nuns to make sure she knew where to go, the couple followed after her and made sure she got her newspaper.


After it was my turn I went to a nearby McDonald’s (just another way of maintaining my American culture in a foreign land) for breakfast, since I had fasted and it was getting late, and as I ate a woman came in and greeted the person at the counter like an old friend.

Big cities can be intimidating, and sometimes you get the feeling that everyone is making an effort not to notice each other, so it’s nice to know that even in a sprawling urban landscape people can be neighborly to each other. Let’s not be afraid to reach out when we see someone in need, or simply wish them a good morning and see where things go from there.

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