Sometimes in life you’re only presented with an opportunity or a new connection or conversation for a just a few minutes. I share the following stories to emphasize how we are just one compliment or one question away from making magic out of the most mundane moments.
On my way to Memphis, I saw an older gentleman at the the airport. He later told me his name was Barry. Barry was elderly and traveling alone. There was an airport agent helping him with his wheel chair through security. He was wearing a Veterans hat. Whenever I see these hats, I always thank the person for their service. As I was waiting for my bags to slide through, I thanked Barry for his service and he proudly lit up and said, “Thank You So Much!”
We began speaking and I shared that my grandparents were Holocaust Survivors and I too volunteered for the Israeli army. Immediately Barry produces the biggest smile and pulls out his necklace to show me he has the jewish word “chai” around his neck. Chai translates to life. We had a moment. Two total strangers, traveling alone, and immediately we felt connected as family.
As the woman started to push Barry away, with tears in my eyes, I asked for his name and his number, turns out he’s my neighbor. I intend to interview him sometime in the next few weeks. Every person in this world has the ability to surprise you if you’re present, patient, and have positive intent. Our conversation lasted less than 3 minutes and ended with a selfie I’ll treasure forever. This special interaction happened on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Later in the day, I board my second flight. Something I usually complain about, but truthfully I get to meet more people so even though it extends my travel time, it makes the day more colorful. There’s a Delta employee flying home and we start speaking. He’s standing in the back near my seat and we hit it off. He’s from Florida and we’re laughing about everything. He tells me his name is Kyle and his partner is from Memphis.
Kyle said during the pandemic he was nannying for a Jewish family in Memphis. I said no way, what family? Kyle said I doubt you’d know them, but here’s the family name….. I started firing off first names and he looks at me in shock. We call this Jewish geography.
The second name I guess was his former client! I smile big, and say working for that family- I bet you’ve read my book!!! Kyle asks for the title and I tell him “The Girl Who Said Hello to Everyone”. Kyle immediately goes, “oh my god, I have the chills!” It was wild. We spoke and laughed some more, but as more people began to board we were separated, but forever bonded.
It’s a difficult time to be in Memphis, but meeting these men along the journey who couldn’t be anymore different than each other made my experience more enjoyable and memorable. When you are sad speaking with others even kind strangers can help you feel full.
It doesn’t make the pain or the darkness go away, but those conversations brightened my day. Never underestimate how much your presence can make the world a better place.
Being present and being the first to say hello holds tremendous power. I challenge you to be that person today, I believe in you. You matter.
I shared this piece with the woman sitting next to me on my return flight to Florida. After reading she exclaims, ”that Delta agent is my Husband’s cousin!!” You never know who you’re sitting next to! Don’t be afraid to say hi or share your passions!
I always share my writings in different groups. What are the odds Barry’s daughter saw my post in the Jewish Women of Atlanta group!!! WILD