Yesterday was an "interesting" day. Yep, the dreaded double quotes so you know that "interesting" has a particularly peculiar connotation.
A meeting in the morning had the potential of going badly and ending quickly, but things turned around. The customer thawed out and welcomed some of our suggestions. A satisfactory meeting was followed by a delicious lunch at Arizona's. Amazing mushroom and artichoke soup.
The flight home was fine. Uneventful. That's good for a flight. Boarding just before me was a woman who seemed to speak no English and had to gate check her bag. Another passenger and I made sure it got tagged so she could retrieve it, a process with which she was obviously unfamiliar. As we deplaned and lined up near the Baggage Buddy (I'm serious; if you've flown American, you know what I'm talking about), she was panicking and recognized me. She had a flight to Madrid with no gate information. We had to wait for the Baggage Buddy so I trudged up the jet bridge to talk to a surly gate agent who shrugged and said there should be someone in the jet bridge to help her. I trudged back down and got the reverse message. Blech. "I'm an experienced traveler, I thought," I can help her with this.
I spoke soothingly to her knowing she understood not one word. We got her bag, mine was right after hers. I walked up with her and, by then, Ms. Surly had colleagues and I managed to get gate information. We checked times and I nodded. "Vamonos" I said to my Madrid-bound friend and we walked quickly. I kept trying to assure we had time, which we did.
Of course her gate was the very last gate at the end of the corridor. I could have told her the number as I'd been practicing saying "diecinueve" as we walked, but she still seemed panicked. And O'Hare can be overwhelming.
So I delivered her to her gate, pointed to the board where it said Madrid, and gave her a big hug. She cried and smiled and thanked me over and over and over again. She made me cry. We hugged again. I made sure she got in the right line, she turned and waved, I waved, and off I went. A long walk back to get my suitcase and my ride home.
As I stood outside in the chill of the early evening, a woman stepped near me, her small, shivering dog in her arms. She fumbled with her phone and a piece of paper, the dog a hindrance. I reached out to help but she politely thanked me and said she could do it. A few minutes later she asked for help, her hands shaking. She said she'd gotten off the plane and there was a message for her from the police department.
"Uh oh," says I, "never a good thing," says I, with remarkable insight.
"Yea," she kind of grimaced. "I just learned my cat died." Well, I thought that's what she said, but then she said, mumbled, a few things after that which made no sense if her cat died and why would the police call to tell her that her cat died? I didn't want to ask for clarification of her tragedy; she didn't seem distraught--no tears, no sadness-she seemed frazzled.
Anyway, I helped her make the call. My ride arrived. I mumbled some platitude I hoped would be appropriate and moved to get in the car.
She thanked me profusely.
That was yesterday. I hope the woman made it safely to Madrid. I wish I'd given her my card so someone could have emailed me to let me know she arrived safely, but I'm fairly confident she didn't get lost between the boarding line and the plane itself. I hope the woman who had some sort of a situation that required police intervention is okay.
For me, it wasn't really a "feel good" day in the warm and fuzzy sense. But it was a good day because I know, by virtue of being kind and considerate, I helped two other people.
Pay it forward.