I'd like to think that I'm a decent human being; to be sure, I don't volunteer at food banks, give a whole lot of money to organizations I care about, or actively rally my fellow human beings around a cause. I'm not fundamentally lazy as I am fundamentally in a constant state of distraction. But I try, any given moment of any given day, to be nice to others.
When I started my present job, in an office building located next to Port Authority, I found myself getting out with some regularity in the morning at the subway entrance/exit on the northwest corner of 42nd and 8th Avenue. These exits have those crazy/creepy cage-like turnstile things, not the old-school turnstiles but the ones that look like they could easily trap you late at night, when no one's around. (Here's a good piece on turnstile design, for the lazily curious.) This particular area is also bereft of an MTA clerk or any Metrocard machine; you're pretty much on your own here if you're trying to get into the subway.
Because this entrance/exit is at 42nd and 8th avenue, right near Times Square, I tend to see a good number of folks trying -- and failing -- to swipe their way in. And many times, for whatever reason, they can't. Sometimes it's because they don't understand how to enter through the turnstile; they sometimes advance the turnstile half a turn, not realizing that this uses up their swipe -- and, if they have an unlimited card, they can't use the card again for a bit. Or sometimes it'll be a regular workaday person whose card is being fussy, leading to the aggravating Please Swipe Card Again at this Turnstile message. Or sometimes they're without a card, and just want in.
And, if I'm not late for work, and (this is probably a more significant factor) if I'm not feeling antisocial and haven't started my day by glazing my eyes over humanity, as I walk through the turnstile, I'll usually help out one of these souls by swiping them in with my card; it's no skin off my back, since I won't be needing to use my card for another 8 or 9 hours anyway. I can't bear to see faulty MTA technology reduce people to tears, especially not at 9:30 in the morning. That's no way to start your day.
My rant? Well, see, sometimes there are people who are clearly frustrated by the card's sudden unreadability. And those people will ask nicely if I might be able to help out. And generally, I will. I'll even sometimes help out folks who aren't asking for help, but who clearly look like they're on the verge of a turnstile-induced nervous breakdown. But then there are people who either don't have a card, or I don't know what, who will say, as I walk past, hey swipe me through! Then, when I do, they walk through the turnstile and -- this has happened more than once -- they not only fail to say thanks, but they give me a look. It's a very particular look I think, specific to this kind of exchange, that has entitlement written all over it. I'm not looking for a thank you, but at 9:30 in the morning, it seems like a much nicer thing to say to someone than, say, Bitch, that took you long enough. (This has actually happened to me.) Because you know what? That's just not nice. I might be going to hell for my myriad indiscretions, but you, my friend, are on the express track. How's that for swiping you through?