A few weeks ago I was traveling and had returned to Chicago O’Hare airport at 1:00 in the morning, after my flight had been delayed over 3 hours. I was chafing at the lateness of the hour, knowing I had about a 1 hour drive home. I was thinking how nice my warm bed would be and working to keep the kindness showing in my demeanor. And I wasn’t being very successful…I was feeling tired and grumpy and irritated, OK, I’ll admit it. I was pissed off!
I passed by the night guard, who shared a wonderful smile, great warmth, and reminded me to have a nice, safe drive home. As I was trudging along with all the junk I seem to “need” when I travel, I was, at one and the same time, thinking about getting home AND how I could share the guard’s act of kindness with someone else. Since no one else was about, I figured I was off the hook (how is that for being a grump, eh)!
Besides that I had every reason to be scared, right? That is what my mind was telling me. It was dark, it was late, I was at Chicago O’Hare Airport, I was by myself, I was female…And the monkey mind went on and on with all the reasons for me to be scared. And they were all perfectly justifiable reasons to be scared, thank you very much! I heard the voice in my head say “Anything could happen, just keep to yourself, walk like you know what you’re doing…remember all those articles you’ve read? Those articles that tell you why to protect yourself and take care?”
I trudged on to the elevator, found the tram out to the nether reaches of O’Hare’s parking lot, pulled my luggage down the broken elevator, paid for the ticket, and trudged through the slushy snow to find a car covered with snow. Crud! Now it was going to take me even longer to get home. Crud, crud, crud! I cleaned off the car, found the elusive ticket (I just had it, where did it go?), and wound my way through the huge parking lot to the exit. When I got to the exit, there was some sort of hold up…the person at the gate was taking forever. Crud again! As I sat reminding myself of patience and kindness, the person moved their car and I thought “great, now we can get going”. But nooooo, she moved her car, dug around and came up with a checkbook (where was her debit card anyway!).
At that moment, I looked in the mirror and saw a man running towards my car…a momentary flash of “oh no, this doesn’t look good” went through my thoughts. The fears I had been harboring and nursing like some sort of open wound since I knew I would arrive late popped into my head.
And then I got one of those gentle nudges…”this man needs your help, and he won’t harm you, you’re safe. You’re OK.” The man, horribly out of breath, got to my window and said “Mam, is there any chance you could help me start my car? The battery is dead. I have cables if I could just attach them to your car.”
Talk about getting what you ask for! I wanted a way to pay it forward and I got it, almost immediately! He jumped in the car and off we went to start his car on this oh-so-frigid night. When we got to his car, his cables wouldn’t reach because of the position of the other cars in the lot. Fortunately (thanks to a kindness of a former boyfriend), I had cables and we were able to hook the two together and get his car started so he pick up his wife, who was waiting inside the train area, and could be on his way to his nice warm bed too.
As we each went our own way, he said “I knew you were kind when you smiled at me while we were on the tram”. And I didn’t even realize I *had* smiled at him.
The smile and kind words from the guard started a chain of events that reminded me why kindness is so important in this world. And he doesn’t even know what he did and how much he changed my life. I know in my heart that I wouldn’t have done helped this man without that smile! I was too busy being tired and ready to be home to pay attention. That simple smile softened my heart and my attitude.
So what do you think? Have you had one of these opportunities too? Yes? Then share it with the world and take one step toward a peaceful loving place in which to live.
~Jerilynne, Wauconda, IL USA