TIME society

This Is the Best Beach in America

According to TripAdvisor's 2015 ranking

As temperatures drop below freezing stateside, travel website TripAdvisor has released its 2015 ranking of the best beaches in the United States and abroad. The list is determined by the quantity and quality of user reviewers and ratings posted on TripAdvisor over the last 12 months.

In America, it’s no surprise that Florida and Hawaii dominate the list:

  1. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Florida
  2. Saint Pete Beach, Saint Pete Beach, Florida
  3. Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
  4. Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana, Maui, Hawaii
  5. Pensacola Beach, Pensacola Beach, Florida
  6. La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, California
  7. Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii
  8. Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, Florida
  9. St. Augustine Beach, Saint Augustine, Florida
  10. Beach at Panama City, Panama City Beach, Florida

Outside of the United States:

1. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
2. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
3. Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa, Italy
4. Playa Paraiso Beach, Cayo Largo, Cuba
5. Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain
6. Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles
7. White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
8. Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico
9. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia
10. Elafonissi Beach, Elafonissi, Greece

TIME society

Here’s What People On Twitter Say They’re Giving Up For Lent

"Boys" and "Nutella" are some top picks

All over the world, people are giving up on things, like their New Year’s Resolutions, failed relationships, and fixing the WiFi router.

But believe it or not, some people are actually giving things up as a form of religious penitence and holy atonement.

That’s right: Lent, the season of renunciation, is upon us. It’s the 40-day period when the adherents of many Christian denominations, including Catholics, Anglicans and Calvinists, forego some quotidian pleasure from Ash Wednesday (that’s today) to Easter Sunday, to honor the forty days when Jesus fasted in the desert and endured temptation by the devil.

Open Bible used Twitter to track some of the main things that people are giving up for their Lenten fasts. Top of the list? Chocolate. Not a big surprise there, but second was Twitter. Apparently, using Twitter to denounce Twitter is definitely in vogue.

Out of 50,899 tweets during the week of February 15, 2015, there were 2,343 chocolate-related tweets, 2020 twitter-related tweets, followed by 1,789 abdications of social networking in general. School came in fourth, and alcohol rounded out the top 5.

Granted, many of the Lent-related Twitter posts are likely facetious, so the list is to be taken with a grain of salt. But it does open a window into our collective guilty pleasures and greatest shames. (One of which appears to be “boys.”)

You can see the full list here.

TIME society

How Mardi Gras Became a Party for Everyone

Mardi Gras
John E. Fletcher and Robert F. Sisson—National Geographic/Getty Images Revelers toss confetti at float of Momus, patron god of Mardi Gras, in New Orleans in 1960

For many years, the celebration was a much more exclusive affair

These days, Mardi Gras in New Orleans — which falls on Feb. 17 this year — is a party for all. But, not that long ago, Mardi Gras celebrations were more exclusive affairs.

As TIME reported in the Feb. 9, 1948, issue, balls and “krewes” were for the city’s elites only, and that situation lasted for decades after the first Mardi Gras parade was held in the 1850s. In the 20th century, however, the celebration expanded:

For half a century, New Orleans’ fantastic Mardi Gras balls were strictly for the upper crust. Nobody without money, blue blood, or both gained membership in the secret men’s clubs or “krewes” which staged them. Before 1900 there were only five clubs: Comus, Momus, Twelfth Night, Rex and Proteus. They culled guest lists with pernickety care, asked only the fairest of debutantes to serve as carnival queens. But times changed. The socially ambitious began forming their own krewes.

In 1928 New Orleans had 16 Mardi Gras balls. In 1946 there were 36. This year, a record-breaking total of 49 are being held. Last week, with Carnival Day (Shrove Tuesday) fast approaching, New Orleans’ social whirl had assumed the proportions of a maelstrom.

By the 1940s, there were krewe options galore. “Italian krewes, Irish krewes, German krewes… krewes for college men, businessmen, professional men,” TIME wrote. “To the horror of New Orleans’ old guard, there are even krewes for women.”

But that didn’t mean Mardi Gras was an all-inclusive celebration. The krewes may have multiplied, but they were still separated along racial and gender lines.

As recently as 1991, the relative exclusivity of the Mardi Gras krewes was a source of controversy in New Orleans. That December, the city council voted to require the krewes to integrate by 1994, or else lose the right to hold parades. (The krewes are private clubs, but the city controls the streets.) As TIME reported, the reaction was big but not exactly easy:

The 60 carnival groups, known as krewes, assailed the measure as a ”tragic mistake” that could drive the festival out of New Orleans. Two of the most prestigious groups, the Mistick Krewe of Comus and the Knights of Momus — both all white, all male — have announced that they will not parade, citing government intrusion. Other krewes have threatened to cancel their parades or relocate them in future years unless the ordinance is radically altered.

At the time, the city was majority African-American, but polls showed that even most black voters did not want to integrate the krewes. At the time, many who opposed the change argued that the krewes’ make-ups were a matter of tradition, not discrimination. However, as the article noted, the barriers were not just racial, but also along religion, sexual and ethnic lines — and krewe membership was important for a lot more than a parade, as it went hand-in-hand with business, social and political networks. Though the measure was weakened — single-sex krewes were allowed, for example — it was enough to keep some of the oldest and most stubborn krewes from ever parading again, as the number and size of the integrated krewes expanded.

Two decades later, there are dozens of krewes that organize balls and parade floats. And, as the Times-Picayune‘s James Gill observed recently, it’s easy to tell that the krewes have modernized and opened up: where they were once the domain of money and blue blood, these days membership applications to many krewes are available to anyone with an Internet connection.

TIME society

Why I’m Glad I Was Bullied

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Because there is something beautiful about being able to get through tough times

xojane

I spent the week before I entered middle school sobbing like a Disney princess. I sobbed in the bathtub, I sobbed on the couch, and I sobbed with my head in a pillow. Elementary school felt like a safe and tangible part of my childhood and now, all of a sudden, it was ripped out of my tiny, monkey bar–callused hands.

“Why aren’t you excited?” concerned family members and close friends asked me, as my bottom lip quivered amongst a sea of tears.

“Because I don’t want to grow up!” I wailed, not knowing how else to describe the pain I was feeling.

I was right to be afraid of what was to come, but not for the reasons I thought. From the moment I entered middle school as a fifth grader until the moment I graduated as an eighth grader, I was bullied, nonstop, every day. Bullied for four years straight.

On my very first day of middle school, I remember getting off the bus, walking toward the school, opening the front door (which was heavier than expected), waving to my uncle, and nervously shuffling toward my home base room. Yes, that’s right, my uncle was the principal of my middle school.

In my moments of dramatic sobbing, I never once whined about having my uncle as my principal. I whined about missing my elementary school teachers. I whined about being in a school that was 15 minutes (instead of five) away from my home, my safe place. But I never whined about that specific familial connection. I didn’t think it was a big deal, especially since I wasn’t one of those kids who was thirsty for attention. Instead, I was quiet, contemplative, and a decided introvert. Definitely not the ideal combination for the negative attention I was about to receive.

After excitedly waving to my uncle on that first day, that’s where the fun ended. Immediately, I became a verbal punching bag for my hormonal, misunderstood peers. Once they finished bullying me about my relationship with my uncle, my weight (or lack thereof), my acne, my home life, my shyness, and even the way I dressed were picked apart. I was quiet, which made me an easy target. Unbeknownst to them, I was also suffering with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Even better.

The most distinctive part of my bullying experience was the fact that I’d lost my name and, as a result, my identity. I became “the principal’s niece,” instead of Anna. Teachers made fun of me, taking out their feelings about my uncle on me. My friends asked for favors that I didn’t have the power to give them, causing innate disappointment. Everyone thought that my good grades were an act of favoritism. My efforts were no longer my own, swirling down the middle school drain, along with my name.

When you’re being bullied, there is no one else that can understand what you are going through. There is no one that can understand your specific situation. That would explain the responses I received when I tried to make my loved ones understand why I started ignoring my uncle:

“Anna, you need to stop being so sensitive.”

“Get a backbone, Anna.”

“Grow up, Anna.”

When I look back on that time in my life, all I see is my small, petite body attempting to walk through a sea of darkness. I see myself, begging to stay home. I see myself having panic attacks at six o’clock in the morning because I couldn’t fathom what my peers and teachers would say to me during the school day. I see myself trying to put into words what I was suffering with, trying to figure out why my anxiety and OCD were getting worse.

I used to talk about this experience all the time, bringing it up in therapy appointments and to anyone that wanted to know why I hated that part of my life. After a while, I stopped, not because it no longer mattered to me, but because I acquired a characteristic I never thought I’d acquire: Strength.

Bullying is a problem. It is a disgusting, evil problem that can cultivate mental illness, suicide, and self-destruction. But as someone that has been affected physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially (therapy is expensive) — in every way possible — I can absolutely say: I am glad that I was bullied.

My experience with bullying has given me a powerful sense of empathy, allowing me to connect with others in ways I never thought possible. Bullying has taught me my worth, making me the strong, empowered, outspoken woman that I am today.

If I could go back in time and tell my dejected, bullied self something, I would say this:

“Anna, you are sensitive and you are quiet, but there is nothing wrong with that. That does not make you weak. Right now, you are surrounded by darkness, but you are still full of light. I know that you are scared, confused, and anxious. I know that you are suffering. But you get through it. Life is hard, but it gets better. Life is hard, but you never stop rising and shining. And that is what matters.”

In life, we all go through our own Dark Ages. We all suffer and doubt ourselves at times. We are all victims of bullying (no matter what anyone tells you). At the time, such an experience may not seem beautiful or universal. In fact, during and for a long time afterward, it will seem really terrible and it will cut you off from the rest of the world.

But there is something beautiful about being able to get through tough times. There is something extraordinary about knowing that you are not alone in the way that you feel. And, yes, there is something universally powerful about being able to not only survive, but to thrive.

It has been six years since I left middle school and, in those six years, I have been bullied every now and then. People have said terrible things to me, but I’ve stood up for myself. I stood up for myself because I know my own worth. I know that people only hurt others because they, themselves, are hurting. I know that now. And in knowing that, I know that bullying has made me better. It has made me both a lover and a fighter. It has made me the woman I am today.

Anna Gragert wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

New York Fashion Week’s First-Ever Model With Down Syndrome Owned the Runway

Jamie Brewer also stars in FX's American Horror Story

New York Fashion Week is all about aspiration. Onlookers imagine themselves as stick-thin runway models, wearing thousands of dollars worth of intricately tailored couture. But designer Carrie Hammer wants the audience at her show to aspire to something different, which is why she’s made it her mission to feature role models over actual runway models.

Thursday morning, actress Jamie Brewer, known for her work on American Horror Story, became the first model with Down syndrome to ever walk at New York Fashion Week.

“It exceeded all of my expectations,” Hammer said to TIME. “What I love about our shows everyone is smiling, everyone is having a good time.”

When Hammer was invited to show her three-year-old line at Fashion Week last year, she decided to use clients rather than traditional models on the runway. This included women of various heights, weights and ethnicities. One of the models included Danielle Sheypuk, who became the first-ever model in a wheelchair to appear at New York Fashion Week.

“We were never trying to make a statement,” Hammer says. “We don’t think of [Sheypuk] as being in a wheelchair. We don’t define her that way … but it went really viral. We got hundreds of emails for girls and their moms thanking us.”

One of the emails came from Katie Driscoll, co-founder of Changing the Face of Beauty, which advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the media. Driscoll, whose daughter Grace has Down syndrome, suggested Hammer reach out to Brewer.

“I thought she would provide a great role model for Grace,” Hammer says. “Jamie is amazing … she has a light and enthusiasm that is incredible.”

Role Models Not Runway Models - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015
Brian Ach—Getty ImagesActress Jamie Brewer walks the runway during the Role Models Not Runway Models

Hammer hopes to expand her role-model-themed runway show to different fashion weeks around the world.

“I think this blows everything away,” she says. “This is, I think, what people have been wanting to see, and everyone’s positive reaction is overwhelming.”

 

TIME society

5 Things to Know About Buying Flowers on Valentine’s Day

175872806
Getty Images

Skip the red roses and opt for something different for your sweetheart

If you were putting off shopping for Valentine’s Day, then it’s time to wake up and smell the roses.

Almost 40% of American consumers will buy flowers for the holiday, spending a total of $2.1 billion, according to a National Retail Federation survey. More than 60% of those purchases will be roses, the Society of American Florists says. Here are five things to know if you are buying flowers.

Red roses are more expensive now.

Red roses—especially the long-stemmed kind—are considered “overpriced” around Valentine’s Day thanks to high demand and consumers’ willingness to pay. As TIME reported earlier this week:

While wholesale prices vary depending on location, florists say they typically pay twice as much for roses in early February than they do at most other times of year. Increased transportation costs and extra labor are among the reasons often given for why rose prices are inflated around now.”

Think pink (or white).

Florist Bridget Carlson of Ashland Addison Florist Company in Chicago says, “white roses are absolutely stunning, and often the pink roses come a little bit more fragrant.”

Tropical and spring flowers are popular alternatives to roses.

If you’re looking to branch out from the typical red roses, there are plenty of options. Carlson also suggests calla lilies, tulips to get people looking forward to spring. The Society of American Florists recommends hydrangeas, gardenias, freesia, hyacinths, and succulents, as well, while alstroemerias and daisies are some of the most popular purchases for Valentine’s Day on the website 1-800 Flowers.

Put the flowers in a Mason jar.

Channel your dream Pinterest board by putting flowers in a Mason jar, giant apple juice bottle, funky glass container, or adapting whatever you might have around the house since professional arrangements can drive up the cost.

Men like flowers, too.

Orchids are great plants to send to men so they can put them in their offices, Carlson says.

LIST: 6 Totally Unromantic Truths about Valentine’s Day Spending

TIME relationships

This Video of Couples Failing Will Make You Feel Better About Being Single on Valentine’s Day

A healthy dose of schadenfreude for your holiday season

What’s the one thing people love more than love? Schadenfreude.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Fail Army compiled footage of couples failing over and over again into one glorious video. Because as much as you enjoy watching people revel in romantic bliss, it’s way more fun to watch them fall over.

Hate on, haters. Hate on.

TIME campus sexual assault

‘Princeton Mom’ Is Now an Icon—and Fellow Alumni Aren’t Happy About It

Susan Patton Princeton Mom
Peter Kramer—NBC/Getty Images Susan Patton appears on NBC News' "Today" show.

Logan Sander is a student at Princeton University, where she freelances for local and national publications. She is from Toledo, Ohio.

Members of Princeton's Class of 1978 have written a collective letter distancing themselves from fellow alum Susan Patton

Susan Patton, better known as the “Princeton Mom” for her unpopular opinions on marriage and date rape, has outraged many. But now she has been publicly challenged by a few of her own—namely 123 of her fellow Princeton alumni.

Members of Princeton’s class of 1978, who graduated a year after Patton, have written a collective letter published in Monday’s edition of the Daily Princetonian in which they criticize Patton’s ideas and her use of the Princeton name—and its colors—as a brand for those ideas.

“The wider world continues to see this woman dressed in orange and black associating her out-of-touch personal beliefs with our alma mater. We—along with many other alumni—see these views as outrageous and unworthy of being associated with Princeton,” the letter says. “We ask the Princeton administration to continue its efforts to create a campus climate where all accusations of sexual assault are treated with the seriousness they deserve, and we invite those who share our views to raise their voices to join ours.”

MORE Princeton Mom is on the Prowl, and 6 Other Things We Learned About Susan Patton

Earlier this winter, CNN televised a controversial interview with Patton in which she criticized the broad definition of rape in today’s society. “It no longer is when a woman is violated at the point of a gun or a knife,” she said in the interview.

Patton argued that instances that are now called rape are actually “learning experiences.”

“We’re now talking about or identifying as rape what really is a clumsy hookup melodrama or a fumbled attempt at a kiss or a caress,” she said.

Members of Princeton’s class of 1978 quickly shared her interview with each other, beginning with a single post on the Princeton University Class of 1978 Facebook page. Julie List, one of the five main authors of the letter, posted the interview on January 30 and within minutes other alumni began to share their outrage.

There’s something especially irritating about her co-opting of the Princeton brand,” Amelia Silver, another co-writer, said in a Facebook comment.

MORE The Mother-In-Law From Hell Was on the Today Show

By the end of the day, the idea of writing a collective letter was widely agreed upon and the process began.

The five writers feel that Patton, who labeled herself “The Princeton Mom” on the cover of her 2013 book Marry Smart, has unfairly damaged the Princeton name—one they share in common with her—but they do not intend for the letter to be a direct criticism of Patton.

“We never mention her name in the letter,” List said. “It’s not a personal attack. It’s an attack on the views that are damaging and that she’s appropriated the Princeton name.”

Many of the alumni signatories have had college-aged children, just like Patton.

“We graduated 35 years ago. Many of us have raised children—I have two children that have gone to college. We have seen these issues affect their lives,” Silver, the Facebook commenter and co-author said. “We have some perspective from our own experiences as undergraduates and then we have the added perspectives of our children’s’ experiences.”

Because of that common experience, the group set out to challenge Patton’s representation of Princeton and notions regarding sexual assault, with alumnus David Abromowitz taking a lead role.

“I think what happens in the absence of anybody challenging the notion that those views are widely held by Princeton moms, dads, aunts and uncles, [is that] the one view out there that the public sees related to Princeton comes to symbolize what people think a lot of people believe,” said Abromowitz. “We challenge that commonly held view, especially being of the same age and era out of Princeton.”

Though much of the letter deals with Patton’s alleged misrepresentation of Princeton, it also attempts to bring the issue of campus sexual assault to national attention.

MORE Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Colleges Need to Stop Protecting Sexual Predators

“To fail to challenge such views damages decades of efforts to help women come forward after being sexually assaulted. It suggests to college women — indeed to all women — that it is really their fault that they were raped,” the alums letters says.

Ann Daniels, a co-author, said that she hopes the letter will create more discussion about college campus sexual assaults and rapes.

“This isn’t just Princeton. This is a nationwide issue, it’s a nationwide problem, it’s a nationwide conversation and we want to move the conversation forward,” Daniels said. “I think the more people that enter that conversation, the more we are going to be able to move forward to do exactly that—to treat rape seriously, to support the people who are victims of it.”

Most of all, Princeton Class of 1978 is attempting to set the record straight—this “Princeton Mom” represents no one but herself.

“We believe we speak for the great majority of Princeton moms and dads, as well as alumni who do not have children, in saying rape in general—and date rape in particular—is inexcusable,” the letter says.

Read next: Watch Beyoncé Explain the Hidden Meaning of Her Grammys Performance

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME career

A Facebook Recruiter Shares Valuable Job Advice

desk
Getty Images

Do not disregard your experience—paid or unpaid, professional or personal

Answer by Ambra Benjamin, Tech Recruiting Lead for Facebook, on Quora.

This is probably one of the preeminent issues facing new college graduates who are entering a very competitive job market. I think in many ways the generation before us did the current generation a great disservice in leading us all to believe that obtaining a four year or graduate degree was the key to gaining traction in the job market. While at one point this was true, the market has moved far more toward favoring experienced hires over the last 10-15 years, even for positions that were commonly reserved as “entry level positions.”

I think the key thing to remember when you are trying to gain job experience is that internships are actual work experience. The more internships a person can have, the better success they’ll have landing an interview based on resume alone. In this era, having internships that pertain to the field you’re hoping to work in full time after you graduate are pretty non-negotiable. If anyone is reading this and they’re still in college, take heed. That unpaid internship in the marketing department at the Smithsonian is probably a better long term investment than the well paying camp counselor gig you’re considering.

For those who’ve already graduated college and are facing the woes of feeling like you just need someone to give you a chance so you can gain valuable experience, I can offer a few suggestions:

  • Volunteer somewhere. You’re not working right? So you should have the time. In conjuction with job hunting, find a way and a place to serve in a meaningful way. You’d be surprised how many organizations would get excited about a freshly minted college graduate contacting them to offer up themselves in any way the organization sees fit. Most people I know who are Social Media Managers for example, first gained their experience by working pro bono and getting their feet wet in running online marketing campaigns and such. It’s also a fantastic way to network. There are people with great connections in organizations who are sure to put a good word in for you with the employer of your choice if they saw you demonstrate great work ethic even when you weren’t getting paid. This is how I got my first corporate job. Volunteering also gives you the chance to take on responsibilities you may not have the opportunity to touch until 3-4 years into your career. And all of this is work experience! It counts and it can go on your resume!
  • Get more creative. You don’t have any work experience and you have a college degree. You’re in the same boat of many other candidates if not slightly behind the boat of others who may be more qualified. So if you have those things working against you, it’s probably best not to try to find jobs in the traditional ways others are because you’re not separating yourself from the pack. You’re going to need to find an in. Figure out who you know and ask them to submit you as an employee referral to positions you’re interested in. Find the hiring manager of the position in which you’re interested and reach out in a professional, concise way. Make them want to hire you. Do you own your name a a web domain? “e.g. MarySharkey.com?” You should. You don’t have to have a fancy website or anything, but you should point it to your LinkedIn profile or something that tells more about you. There are also a lot of really cool, free services like about.me and such that allow you to easily establish an online footprint.
  • Assess Yourself. Extract experience from what you’ve already done. A lot of people sell themselves short because they discount their experience. Sometimes you have to grasp a bit, but if you were the president of your sorority or you led a student trip to Guatemala, or you organized a large event or maintained the school newspaper’s website, these are all worthwhile things to count toward your experience.

Get out there and hustle!

This question originally appeared on Quora: How can someone gain job experience if companies would always hire someone with a college degree and experience?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

When I Tried to Help a Blind Man, He (Rightfully) Put Me in My Place

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

My intentions were pure, but the execution was desperately pathetic

xojane

On a cold day in late December, I was in an unusually good mood; I had woken up on the right side of the bed, my coffee was strong, and Spotify’s “Have a Great Day” playlist blasted through my headphones sending my brain messages to be positive and stay cool! HECK YES! THIS WEDNESDAY IS GOING TO R-O-C-K!

As I strutted through the streets of New York, I couldn’t help but compliment the surrounding strangers. Internally compliment them, of course; I’m not crazy, I was just cheerful.

Fierce hat, Lady With the Hat!

Hey, Kid! Those braces really bring out your eyes!

Hey, Mr. Man I really — oh! You’re blind and you’re crossing the street. HERE, LET ME HELP YOU!

Yes, I know. I hate myself, too.

Mr. Man was on the shorter side; he wore a long, brown coat, dapper-looking shoes, and sunglasses that implied he was a fashionista of sorts.

“Excuse me, sir?” I began, beaming with charitable thoughts and selfless intentions. “Can I help you get to where you need to go?” The man smiled, and raised his hand to politely refuse.

“No, thank you, dear. I’m just trying to get to the bus stop, and I have a feeling it’s just up the next block.”

I wasn’t going to let Mr. Man get off that easily.

“Please, it’s no bother! I can walk you there!” I insisted.

“Well… okay,” Mr. Man reluctantly agreed, and with that I looped my stupid arm through his, and we walked.

We talked as we walked. And by “we talked,” I mean I talked at him. I wouldn’t shut up. I told him about my schooling (“I graduated from the University of Michigan — GO BLUE!”), why I moved to the city (“to be an actor, or well, really, I just want to make a living by making people laugh!”), and where I lived (“the east side of Manhattan, but it’s too expensive, so I have a feeling I’ll be in Brooklyn by the spring”). I told him about how being single and 25 in New York was nothing like Sex and the City made it out to be, and that my survival job was really bringing me down.

“It’s just… life should be about happiness, you know? Not serving douche bags from the tristate area overpriced popcorn shrimp.” Short of giving Mr. Man my social security number, I really opened up.

As I was midway through telling him the story of my parents’ separation, Mr. Man stopped me.

“Sweetheart, have we passed the 68th Street bus stop?” We had because we were now on 75th.

“Uh… we…” I panicked slightly. Darn! This is not how I wanted my philanthropic efforts to go! “Yes, yes we have. But that’s okay because I can take you to the next one!”

Mr. Man exhaled. “Okay, just look for the nearest lamp post that has the MTA bus logo on it, okay?”

I cheerfully agreed as I kept my eyes out for the “lamp post.”

Now, unfortunately the lamp post I was imagining was something à la The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You know, an English-looking device with a glowing white bulb and a Mr. Tumnus character playing the lute trying to coax Lucy into eating more Turkish delight. So it makes sense that I completely passed three (four) more bus stops.

After 10 more minutes of walking, Mr. Man’s patience was entirely thinned.

“Look, I need to get on the bus now. Where are we?”

I was wildly embarrassed. “82nd Street,” I whispered.

“Where is the nearest bus stop from here?” he demanded. “I’m going to find out RIGHT now!”

I pulled out my smartphone to ask Siri where the next nearest station was. To my dismay, my phone was dead. Not cool, Spotify and your battery-drowning ways!

“Um, sir… I actually, don’t know.”

Mr. Man came to a full stop, turned his face to mine and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“I know, I’m sorry, sir. I just — I don’t live up here and…” he cut me off.

“And you thought you would just help me because I’m blind and you think I need help?”

Yes.

“No! I was just trying to be… well, helpful.”

“Well, you’re not being very helpful.”

So I did the next most helpful thing I could think of: I started asking other New York City strangers if they knew where the closest bus stop was.

“Oh, my God. Now you’re asking other people?!” Mr. Man was not happy.

Eventually, a nice Older Woman told us we were a half a block away from the nearest uptown stop. “I’m headed there now, do you want me to take the two of you there?” Older Woman looked me and Mr. Man up and down; I think she thought I was trying to abduct him.

“No,” said Mr. Man, “she’s staying here, but you can walk me there.”

I was stung.

“Are you sure?” I asked hopefully.

“One-hundred-percent positive. Let me tell you something, young lady.” Mr. Man lowered his voice and spoke with a seriousness only young children being reprimanded can truly empathize with: “I have been blind my whole life. And at times, I do need help, but when I need it, I ask for it. Don’t assume that just because you can see and I can’t that you know where you’re going. Maybe before you help other people you should help yourself first.”

My intentions were pure, but the execution was desperately pathetic and extremely inconvenient for the innocent man.

As I watched Mr. Man and Older Woman walk away, I just sort of stood there. Ouch, that was… rude. And actually very honest and truthful. You know those moments in your life where the universe tells you to shut up? Well, this was my moment.

Alli Brown wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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