By Linda Commito
How a friend learned an uncomfortable lesson about generosity in an airport.
It had been a rough week. Sarah’s body was exhausted, her nails cracked, her hair frizzed, and her head ached. She had, four weeks prior, traveled across the country to be a mom again to her grown daughter and was now returning home to her husband. She could hardly wait.
Sarah got past security. She needed this travel time to switch gears and slow down her heartbeat and was grateful to be alone with an hour to boarding. Ah, a kiosk with snacks, healthy snacks. After choosing a pack of trail mix cookies with no artificial anything, she grabbed a New York Times. She found a small white plastic table within earshot of her gate, sat down, and immersed herself in her newspaper.
In her peripheral vision she saw a young man seat himself directly across from her at her tiny table. Handsome and well-groomed, he said nothing, but smiled as his eyes focused on hers. She squirmed inside, feeling somehow that this “approach” was highly inappropriate. Although there was no obvious reason, his actions felt somehow menacing. He was after all uninvited and invading her space.
She glued her eyes on the Maureen Dowd piece she was trying to be engrossed in. After several minutes, as casually as she could, Sarah reached around her paper to take a cookie from the box on the table. As she did so the man reached his hand into the box and took a cookie for himself. Sarah sat immobile as a hot flush flooded upward from her chest and pounded at her temples. She struggled to maintain her sense of good manners and kept quiet.
She turned the page of her paper, although she had read nothing. With an air of self-possession, Sarah reached for another cookie. After she had eaten it, she was stunned as the man reached over and took the last of the four cookies. But then he broke it in two and offered her one half, nodding his head in her direction with the same inscrutable smile. She took it from him in silence, careful not to let their fingers touch, as her gate was called. With relief she gathered up her bag and quickly headed for the boarding gate.
As she opened her bag to retrieve her boarding pass, THERE IT WAS—the package of cookies! The cookies on the table were HIS cookies!
He had been the one, not she, who was generous and patient. This man who she assumed was some presumptuous, rude stranger was in fact a most gracious one. She was the one who had received an act of kindness from a stranger even as she ruminated on all kinds of negative thoughts about him.
An uncomfortable encounter at the airport turned out to be a valuable lesson in generosity.
How well do you share your cookies?
—Story as told to Linda Commito by Harriet Roberts
Linda Commito, author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and teacher, is passionate about her vision to leave this world a kinder, more compassionate and interconnected place. Her award-winning book of inspirational stories, Love is the New Currency, demonstrates how we can each make a positive difference in the lives of others through simple acts of love and kindness. Visit http://www.loveisthenewcurrency.com for more information and/or to sign up for an uplifting monthly newsletter. Read about everyday acts of kindness on http://www.FB.com/kindnesscollaborative. Linda believes that in order to inspire a kinder world the place to start is with children. She volunteered at a Title One elementary school, working with over 500 students, to create and facilitate “Kindness Starts with Me,» a program which includes a website (http://www.kindnessstartswithme.com) and a book for children.