Friday, April 13, 2012
Kindness on the Road
As I was traveling home from Little Rock through Charlotte and on to Philadelphia today, there was no shortage of opportunities to be kind. Among the things I did intentionally today, I’ll mention three of them here:
As is usually the case, the boarding process for my flight began with those needing special assistance. On the first leg of the trip there was an older woman who had great difficulty walking. She was wheeled down the ramp and then slowly made her way onto the plane. When I took my seat, I found that I was only one row in front of her. Noticing that she had struggled to put her handbag in the overhead compartment above her, I made a mental note to be sure to help retrieve her bag when the plane landed. Sure enough, I was able to quickly reach it for her when we arrived in Charlotte. She seemed surprised, not thinking that anyone had noticed or would go out of their way to help. Hopefully I was able to make her travels just a tiny bit easier.
When we landed in Charlotte, I navigated my way through the airport to the gate for my next flight. On my way, I passed a mother taking a picture of her young daughter, as if it might have been her first trip to an airport. I stopped and offered to take a picture of the two of them, to which the mother readily agreed.
My third act was really a series of acts. More specifically, I made a point to look at the nametag of each worker that I encountered and to use their name in conversation, even if it was simply to thank them. This included several TSA employees in Little Rock, the gate personnel at each airport, and the flight attendants on each flight. I’ve talked about the importance of using people’s names before and am always struck by the way in which it changes the quality of a routine exchange. The other person magically becomes a real human, instead of just a role. It’s such a simple gesture, but it does seem to inject a bit of humanity into the mostly impersonal process of moving millions of people from one place to another.
I want to take a moment to thank the many people who wrote me e-mails and posted comments about yesterday’s story of Jeff, the world’s most amazing men’s room attendant. He truly was remarkable and an inspiration. Please also continue to share this blog with family, friends, and co-workers who you think might benefit from reading daily stories of kindness.