I have always tried to listen to an inside nudge to be aware of those I meet along my life’s path. Be patient, resilient, kind and aware that someone’s day may have been a struggle in spite of the smile. My faith encourages me to treat strangers as if they were angels unaware. This is a personal goal before and after the holidays. My point?
Last week, while on vacation with my sister, we received sad news that would affect multiple family members and the ability to enjoy the long awaited vacation. For eight days, we all sifted through the flurry of updates and emails regarding a health diagnosis for a loved one. Unfortunately, it would tug more deeply on my sister’s heart as she tried to balance the updates with an effort to focus on vacation. During the return trip, we hugged and parted on the Atlanta airport train, the lingering hugs and silent sobs confirmed the inability to escape the heavy news on all of us. My sister’s shoulders carried a heavy burden and she headed to her plane’s gate.
The next morning, she called and shared a stranger’s random act of kindness that put balm on her hurting heart. Her plane’s departure was delayed which created an agitated male passenger slamming his briefcase in protest. The temper tantrum continued until the boarding. She dreaded the possibility of his negative presence beside her on the plane. She was already trying to blend into the crowd masking her tears.
A short flight, retrieval of her bag and she was headed to the parking shuttle area. In search of Shuttle 2. The driver of Shuttle 1 idled inquiring if she needed a ride. She confirmed that she needed Shuttle 2, shivering, exhausted and still faced a forty-five minute commute to her home. Within five minutes and no Shuttle 1 passengers, the driver re-opened the warm van’s door. “Honey, get in here,” she said, “I’ll take you to your car.”
Before she could pick up her suitcase and enter the shuttle, the driver reached for the handle. “Honey, that’s my job. Get inside and get warm,” she said and gently loaded the bag to the luggage rack. Before the driver could shut the door, the angry passenger shoved himself onto the shuttle. “I need Shuttle 1 parking lot. Is this the right one?” he said gruffly.” The driver smiled, nodded, closed the door and looked into the mirror. “What part of Shuttle 2 lot are you in, honey?” she asked my sister. Angry man glared as my sister said, “M-3.”
As the driver found her way, she hummed to the Christmas carols playing on the radio. “What kind of car, sweetie?” she asked. The angry man stared disapprovingly at the curbside service. “At the end of that row, the black Honda,” she answered, avoiding the man’s glare. She fumbled in her purse for keys… and a nice tip.
With the van in park, the driver invited my sister to exit as she retrieved the bag for her. After she snapped the trunk of her car closed and hugged the driver, she watched the red tail lights fade as the shuttle turned the corner. Through her tears, there was a halo. If this was a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life, she’d hear the sound of a bell tinkling that an angel had earned her wings.