What Can’t Be Measured

For two years, April Lee Uzarski bought coffee from Lina’s cart on the East Side of Manhattan.

Lina sang “Happy Birthday” to Ms. Uzarksi in February. When Ms. Uzarski’s husband had an aneurism last year, Lina offered her coffee and support every day.

From her cart on East 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue, Lina knew more about Ms. Uzarski than some of Ms. Uzarksi’s closest friends.

You, Lina told Ms. Uzarski, are a good friend, wife, and person. Three things Ms. Uzarski often doubted about herself.

But in April, Ms. Uzarski was offered a new job. It would mean not seeing Lina every day. The decision weighed heavily on Ms. Uzarski.

She took the job. But before she left, she wrote a thank you note to Lina in The New York Times. Here is one line from it:

“The value of the kindness you have shown me the past two years is immeasurable.”

In this city, where wealth, happiness levels, and air quality are measured, there are still things that are immeasurable. And they can happen on the corner of 52nd and Lexington.

Lina took a point in time – probably no more than a handful of minutes every day – and made something with it. She reminded Ms. Uzarski that she mattered.

There are no special tools needed. Lina wasn’t delivering babies or cracking codes. She was serving coffee. Anyone of us can do it.

Because the truth, as Barbara Kingsolver describes it, is this:

“Every life is different because you passed this way and touched history.”

Why not make those lives different in ways that matter? Add humanity to our transactions, flood common moments with uncommon kindness.

It’s in each of us to touch history immeasurably. It doesn’t take more than a cup of coffee.

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