An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scofted. "You're not saving enough to make a difference." The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "Made a difference to that one," he said.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Attention Travelers: Stop and Look Around You
As an avid traveler I have found that if I stop and look around there are always opportunities to give and help others. From my observation, airports tend to be a confusing place that makes people nervous. All people want is for someone to help them but they don’t want to ask for the help.
I take the Coach USA bus from Northwest Indiana to Chicago Midway airport. During this trip I have to transfer from one bus that continues to O’Hare and get on my bus that goes to Midway. While I was transferring buses today I noticed a young lady that had a baby strapped to the front of her, a large purse, baby bag, duffle bag and two rolling suitcases. People with their heads down grabbed their bags and continued to move on to their bus. I stopped and asked her if she needed help and she said yes. I strolled and loaded her bags on the bus.
When we got to the airport I asked her again if she could use some help. I brought her bags into the airport and I could tell she hadn’t traveled much so I decided to stay with her until she felt comfortable and got to where she was going. I helped her at check-in and gave her directions on how to get to security and get to her gate. In giving her directions I could tell she was still not confident she could make it to her gate.
I told her to wait at the top of the escalators while I took my bag to check-in. As I was walking away she asked a very direct question, with a nervous giggle… “Are you a human trafficker?”
At first I was taken aback by her question but then I stopped to look at the situation. A total stranger, following and helping another total stranger through the airport. I know she had to be thinking, “Why is she doing this? What is in it for her?”
She said, I only ask because I was watching this show last night on human trafficking and it has me paranoid. I can’t believe this stuff happens in the United States. I laughed and said I am not a human trafficker. You can trust me. I told her I was a former police officer and that I was married to and Indiana State Trooper. Yes, there are some corrupt cops out there but 98% are out there doing good things, so I hope this would ease her suspicions and it did.
I dropped off my bag and came back to her and navigated her down the escalator to security where I helped her with her bags. It is funny how the mind works because here she was hoping I wasn’t a human trafficker and as I was carrying her bags and helping her through security, I was praying there were no drugs or illegal items in her bags. That is all I would need. Trying to prove to the cops I was just taking time to help someone through the airport and that a bag I had in my possession was not my bag. I am sure the cops would believe that story because that is what everyone who is smuggling drugs say…. “It’s not my bag!”
We made it through security and I looked at my watch and still had an hour to get to my gate. I decided I would continue to help her with her bags and walk her down to her gate, B18. We made it to the gate and because she was flying standby I took her to the Southwest desk to see if she was going to make the flight. Unfortunately her flight was overbooked and she would be bumped to another flight.
The customer service representative asked the young lady, “Who is this?” The young lady without missing a beat said, “This is my guardian angel and I love her!”
We had been together less than an hour and we had made a connection, a bond. I walked her to her seat, got her situated and gave her a big hug and wished her luck on her travels.
Next time you are in the airport, stop and look around for someone needing help. Help someone with their bags, let someone in front of you who seems to be running late or give someone directions that seem lost. These random acts of kindness cost you nothing but may be priceless to the person you are reaching out and lending a helping hand.