Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

I was traveling back to the Midwest for my godmother's funeral yesterday.

Since my flight left at six-yikes-too-early-AM, I found myself standing at the airport gate bleary-eyed and though I hadn't even boarded the plane, was happily reflecting on the generosity and courtesy from two complete strangers.

Are early morning travelers nicer than most? Or did I look especially pathetic this morning? Hard to tell. Could be a bit of both.

At the security checkpoint, I approached the TSA scanner confident that I couldn't possibly set off any alarms. Well, metal detectors, anyway. Had there been doofus detectors, I would have been in serious trouble, I surmised.

But of course my confident assumption was WRONG, as all kinds of lights and beeps sprang to life as I passed through the detectors.

Honestly. My Medic-Alert bracelet was the culprit, so I was brusquely advised to remove it.

Dang. This clasp on this thing was designed to be difficult to open, and boy howdy - it was being particularly stubborn. I hastily tried to open it but only succeeded in chipping my nail polish.

I was holding up the line, and several folks craned their neck to get a look at me, the troublesome slowpoke. Aaarrrgghhh.

"Can I help?" A young man whose arms and neck were covered with tattoed skulls and flames and serpents asked. He sported a whole variety of piercings, but his voice was low and gentle, a startling contrast to his fierce appearance.

"Thanks. I really appreciate it!" I said and stuck out my wrist as the TSA agent looked on.

The young man deftly undid the clasp and handed me my bracelet, and as he leaned forward to drop it into my hand, I saw a Medic-Alert necklace clutched in HIS hand. We smiled at each other as though we were members of an exclusive club. Which we are, I guess.

He glided past me after we both had cleared security, slinging his dog-tag style pendant over his head with practiced ease, tucking it beneath his t shirt on which was printed several skeletons floating in a sea of black with snakes woven through their ribs.

What a nice boy.

So I sat on a bench and slipped on my shoes, reclaimed my purse and bag, and was about to leave when an elderly gentleman waved at me. "Hey!" he said. "Is that yours?"

I looked down into the grey plastic bucket that I had tossed onto a stack of other grey buckets, and saw the Medic-Alert bracelet coiled up in the corner.

"Oh, my! Thanks!" I exclaimed.

He pushed his feet into his worn cowboy boots, gave his large belt buckle one final tug and slid his Stetson further back on his forehead. "Gimme your hand." he said with a gravely voice.

I obedediently stuck out my wrist and was amazed how easily his large callused fingers picked up the bracelet and manipulated the clasp.

"The wife has one. Durn things can't be done by the one's wearin' em"

"Thank you. Thank you so much!" I stammered, still processing what just had happened.

He tipped his hat, YES HE DID. I did not know that gentlemen still did that. And then loped off, leaving me sitting there looking at my troublesome bracelet.

I mulled over the fact that these two people had stopped to help me - a frumpy middle - aged chubby clueless lady. I would have expected such attention had I been young and cute.

There are some seriously good and kind people out there, folks. For which I am enormously grateful.


annie said...

Sometimes, good things happen when you least expect them and from the most unlikely people, but there are some really nice people out there. You were fortunate to meet up with two on the same day.How unlikely is that?

cargillwitch said...

" I have always counted on the kindness of strangers"
Might be a line from a classic but I have a feeling that deep down most people are decent and want to help. Sometimes it makes THEM feel good when we let them!
So sorry for your loss.

ShEiLa said...

I really loved this story. I just flew out to Indiana Thursday morning at Six-Yikes-Too-Early from Las Vegas. My daughter moved out here in December.... I loved your gentlemanly tip of the hat story... loved it!

A nice gentleman gave me a super soft fresh sugar cookie at the FWA while waiting for my daughter to arrive (after work)... I thought it was the sweetest gesture ever. (Plus I was starving... with back to back flights and enough time to run a 2 mile obstacle course at the DETROIT airport... not sure how I survived... but I was quite dehydrated)

Please travel safely back home.


Jackie said...

I love this, thank you for sharing :)