Last month I promised you the first installment of how my Bound4Ireland series came to light. Something happened during my recent journey and it’s something that I’m feeling very compelled to share with you. Ten days ago, I received a call from my corporate office requesting that I fly to one of our US distribution sites to assist with an operational crisis. The next morning I was on a plane. Needless to say, the following ten days were exhausting and extremely busy. Even though the team that I was working with was wonderful, friendly people, I missed my family and was eager to get home. Finally, after ten days I got the approval to come home and continue to support from here. I packed up my bags and made my way to the airport. Now, as my friend Angie will tell you, I’m travel jinxed. She knows, she’s traveled with me A LOT. Nothing ever goes smoothly for me. Just stick with me for a little bit longer, and my point will be clear. I promise.
After working fourteen to sixteen hour days for ten days straight I was so wound up about going home I barely slept. I decided, since I couldn’t sleep anyways, I would gather up my stuff and head to the airport early. I’m no stranger to flying, but I still experience a fair amount of anxiety, finding TSA and Customs extremely intimidating. Knowing that I only had thirty minutes in between connecting flights when I got to Detroit was stressing me out. I checked in my luggage and with my laptop in hand, I maneuvered through the terminal trying to find my way to the gate. It always amazes me the number of people that make their way through the airport. All of them seemingly know where to go and what to do. I struggle as I walk, watching for signs and directions to my boarding gate. Impatient people, walking briskly, catch up to me. Closing the gap, they invade my personal space. I feel them behind me, waiting for the opportunity to get past and it makes me more anxious. Families with small children walk slowly in clusters, slowing down my progress. Then there’s the wanderer. Those that go against the normal flow of foot traffic, distracted or unaware of others around them. Or maybe they just don’t care. To my earlier point, everybody is so caught up in their own journey, that they really don’t see what’s going on around them.
By nothing short of a miracle I finally find my way to my gate almost two hours before my boarding time; it’s the perfect opportunity to get in a little writing. In every row of seating, people sit with their bags on the seats beside them, guaranteeing themselves personal space. I take a seat at the end of the row, frustrated at the young man wearing headphones who refused to acknowledge me. As if he didn’t see me say ‘excuse me’, he stretched his legs out across the aisle so that I couldn’t pass to get a seat near the power outlets. Across from me, a group of women travelling together discusses their trip and laugh out loud at the selfies they’re posting every few moments on Facebook. In the row behind me, a businessman waits for the same flight. His phone rings every two minutes and he takes his calls, conducting his business loudly, not concerned if he may be annoying the people around him. I shake my head and glance down at the cell phone in my hand that I’ve been clutching tightly so that I wouldn’t miss a call from Mr. Daniels.
When the inconsiderate young man with the expensive headphones leaves to board his flight, I quickly gather my stuff and move over to the seats close to the power outlets. The odd incline of the seat and the slippery, vinyl covering make me plop down and slide backwards awkwardly. It makes me chuckle and I turn to the elder woman sitting beside me who looks in my direction. I begin to speak to her, about to share with her a humorous thought but she turns away and stares straight ahead with a stoic look.
As a plane arrives, the gate doors open, and the immediate area becomes chaotic as people rush to catch their connecting flights. They bump into others and rush through the concourse without an ‘excuse me’ or an apology. I try to get a few words written, trying to ignore my disappointment with the behavior of those around me. Then I hear it over the hollow airport speakers. The announcement that, due to mechanical reasons, our flight will be delayed an hour. I look around at all the waiting passengers as they erupt into an angry mob. People rush to the desk, trying to get more information and rebook their connecting flights. An employee of the airline walks around handing out cards with the airlines booking number on it, suggesting that we try to call in and make new arrangements.
My heart sinks when I’m told that the only connecting flight I can take would be through Atlanta and it would get me into Toronto around ten p.m. Seven hours later than planned. I’m really missing Mr. Daniels, right now. He seems to know how to settle me and I just want to get home to him. The elderly woman beside me is trying to get through on the phone but she’s on hold, due to the high volume of calls. I offer her my phone to speak with the agent I have on the line but she waves me off.
I shrug, there’s not much else I can do. I try to go back to my writing but the stress has caused a throbbing pain in my neck. My thoughts are continually interrupted by the loud protests of irate travelers whose plans have been disrupted. Intense businessmen make call after call, cancelling meetings and loudly voicing their opinion of the airlines. I glance up at the airline employee at the desk. I feel bad for her. She’s taking the brunt of the angry backlash. I understand why everyone is upset; it’s an inconvenience for sure. When did our society become one where it’s okay to treat someone with such a lack of respect and unkindness? Service industry or not, she didn’t cause the mechanical failure and is trying her best to make sure everyone gets home as soon as possible. Still, they rant, rave, and make demands. Are you getting a good picture of the environment at the moment?
I’m not going to get any writing done. Frustrated I shut down the laptop with the intentions of putting
Maybe it’s the hormones, or maybe it’s the exhaustion, but tears well up in my eyes as the small girl continues up the row of seating. Even the men, receive her humble gift. A few of them say no thank you, telling her that she can give it to someone else instead, but she refuses to take no as an answer. When I look around the seating area, everyone is holding a single pink carnation and smiling. Voices at the airline counter become less intense, and I hear several expressions of gratitude for the agent’s assistance. Waiting passengers look up from their phones and listen as her mom explains her actions, and then they begin to talk…. TO EACH OTHER!
The uptight, businessman paces with his phone to his ear and stops in his tracks when she bravely steps in front of him and holds up a flower. I feel nervous for her when he stops, looking down at her annoyed. I think I even held my breath for a moment, not too sure how this was going to go over. He ended his call and looked over at her mom as she once again explains. Then he shocks me. Crouching down, he gets to her eye level and begins to talk to her. Quickly realizing that she’s really shy, he changes gears and begins to ask her questions that she can answer by nodding her head. After getting permission from her mom to take a picture of her to post on Facebook he reaches into his wallet. Mom protests, of course, because this isn’t the reason for what she’s doing, but he insists. Tucking a few folded bills into her tiny hands, he instructs the four year old to take her mommy out for lunch. She nods and he smiles, and then his eyes well up with tears. He pats her on the top of the head as he gets to his feet, explaining to her mother that he’s been travelling for business for several weeks and that he’s been trying to get home to see his granddaughter. There isn’t a dry eye in the place when he expresses how much he misses her, and thanks the wee girl standing in front of him for making his day.
Everyone tries to discreetly wipe away their tears, feeling somewhat embarrassed. It’s a shame, really. On my way to the restroom, I follow them as they leave the concourse. I wonder if she’ll remember this day and know just how powerful her actions were. Her unspoken message was a, much needed, reminder of the importance of compassion. I watch, feeling truly thankful for my delayed flight, as this amazing four-year-old girl takes a hold of her mother’s hand and looks up at her with a loving look. Then in the most angelic voice I’ve ever encountered she begins to sing… “Skip To My Lou” as they disappear into the crowd of people.
As I looked around at the sea of pink carnations being carried through the airport by complete strangers, I feel a twinkle of hope for our society. It IS possible to unplug, unhook and be kind to each other. A simple smile can make a difference in someone’s day. Today it took the innocent, unselfish act of a four-year-old child to remind me of how important it is, to not only see the flowers, but to stop and smell them and share them with others. Even when they don’t seem receptive to them at first. Random acts of kindness, is on my agenda. My heart is renewed today and I hope to pay that gift forward. As you head into your new week, find a reason to smile. Please… share it with others. I know for certain that someone, somewhere, really needs to see it.
Next month I promise to share with you how Ethan and Olivia's came to be written. It's a story you're not going to believe. If you haven't already read my compelling and heart-pounding debut novel, Intractable Souls the first book in the BoundeIreland series then buy it now. It's only $1.99 on Amazon. This is an emotionally charged series (You'll understand why, after my next post) that you don't want to miss!
Love you all, until next time!