Is Letting A Stranger Nap On You An Act Of Incredible Kindness, Or Hugely Inconsiderate?

Photo via Reddit
Photo via Reddit

Ever since this picture started circulating on Reddit, a lot of people have been praising Oscar “Isaac” Theil, 65, as something of a folk hero, or at least, a person with much more patience and understanding than most of us can muster during the commute (“He had a long day so let him sleep. We’ve all been there,” Theil reportedly said when someone offered to help move this guy). But over at Atlantic Cities, a counterpoint: by letting this guy continue his half hour nap, was Theil setting him up for disaster?  

Of the decision to let him sleep, Theil has said, “I didn’t want to scare him awake, I turned around to look at him and he was dazed,” which generally makes sense. Atlantic Cities raises a valid point, though:

The subway etiquette question isn’t actually all that clear here. Should you let your neighbor sleep for that long, even if you have no idea whether they’re going to miss their stop? Can an act of commuter kindness actually go wrong?

Well, yeah, can it ever. Anybody who’s ever woken up in the Bronx or Coney Island (or just gone one stop too far after getting too wrapped up in their phone) can vouch for that. This particular case ended well, and the sleeper has since come forward, explaining, “This is me, I was not on drugs. I came from a long day of college, very tired and I nodded off on this random guy. I actually remember falling asleep, haha thank you and god bless to that man who let me sleep.” Meaning we can continue unreservedly praising Theil as the exceptionally kind person that he is. And that if we try to follow suit, it could all go terribly wrong.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


  1. Oh God… waking up in Coney Island… Yeah, that’s one thing I don’t miss about living off the F train. And so far, havne’t woken up in Canarsie since my 5 years living off the L (*knocks on wood*).


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