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Faith In The Kindness Of Strangers

Last week we made our long journey from Calgary to DC. We spent 2 wonderful months at home getting balanced, grounded and reminded of the people and places we love at home and with very teary eyes said goodbye to our loved ones until Christmas.

Normally customs stresses me out. Even though I’m never doing anything wrong, I always feel like they’re going to find out something terrible that I’ve done (and apparently forgotten about), much like how on the rare occasion when I get pulled over for speeding I’m always scared they’re going to find a body in the trunk. We all have our issues.

Customs sometimes can be a hassle for me though because I’m taking the kids by myself across the border and it’s only been this time that I actually had a proper letter of permission from my husband. I usually get questioned and reprimanded because I don’t have the letter (although this time I did and they didn’t want it either going in or leaving Canada – go figure).

I have found the perfect way for me to speed up our painful customs process. Apparently when you go up to the officer’s desk and he asks you for your paperwork, if you turn into a huge blubbering mess of tears it kind of freaks him out and he asks few questions and just stamps what needs done and sends you on your way. I don’t recommend it as it’s highly embarassing and causes plenty of stares from other people flying – but hey, sometimes it happens.

I was really impressed and thankful on both our flights at how kind some of the passengers were. Since we flew with 10,000 (or 5) suitcases and 3 carryon, one laptop roller, and one backpack I had a lot of stuff to deal with. On our way there I was lucky and they gate checked all our carry on except the laptop bag. On our way back I had to keep them all with me. Each time some kind person helped me throw up all the luggage in the overhead compartment and then helped me take it down again. I was so grateful as it made it so much easier for me to keep things organized.

All in all, I arrived in DC feeling a bit weepy but pretty good about the flights and thankful the kids had been so well behaved and so grateful the people around me had been so kind.

We walked down the hallway and went down the escalator and ended up at the landing to get on the train that takes you from one part of the airport to the next. Jenna was pulling her carryon and Jacob had his backpack and one carryon and I had another carryon and the laptop case. Jenna was in the lead and was happily chirping about how lucky it was that the train was still there. She was about 5 steps ahead of Jacob and I as she stepped onto the train and just as her carry on bumped onto the train the doors snapped shut. I realized in a split second that my baby was on a train in a city that we didn’t know, and that the train was leaving because there was no person driving the train. I was banging on the outside of the train, Jenna was bawling on the inside of the train, and the lady standing next to Jenna put her arm around her and mouthed to me “I’ll look after her.” And off the train went.

We got on the next train which was the longest 5 minutes of my life. I realized when we came to the first stop that the other people on the train were as worried as I was. All I heard was “she’s not here, she must be at the next stop.” About this time Jenna called me from the phone of the lady who said she would look after her for me and said they were waiting at the stop where you get your luggage. When we got to the second stop we all were looking on the left side of the train where there was no one and suddenly someone yelled “She’s on the other side! There she is!!!” And the whole train clapped and whooped and cheered. They parted to let me and Jacob run out and run we did. I grabbed her up in my arms and gave her the biggest hug and kiss ever. I hugged the lady who had cared for her and thanked her over and over and she said she has a son about Jenna’s age and she would hope someone would do the same for her if she was ever in that situation. Jenna and Jacob and I stood there and bawled and hugged for a good long time and finally were able to get ourselves together to leave the terminal and meet their dad, who we hadn’t seen all summer.

I am so incredibly thankful for the kindness of this stranger. She looked after my baby and kept her safe and gave her a small sense of security during an incredibly scary time. In a time where our media seems to spend so much time talking about all the bad folks out there, it’s important to stop and give thanks for the wonderful, kind, loving people who are out in the world doing small, unnoticed acts of kindness.

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