The Kindness of Strangers

My daughter cried when I left for the airport this time.

It was understandable. This was my longest trip yet. A full week away from my family. I haven’t been on a plane since July. And lately I’ve been making a special effort to spend more time with her, as she’s been dealing with the challenges of girls and being social, which tends to rear its ugly head at about her age (boys are so much easier when it comes to the social stuff.)

Now I try to keep it all in perspective, in order to keep the mommy guilt from spiraling out of control. I know she’ll be fine. My husband is home full time (just like I am when I’m not traveling) so I know she’ll have a lot of attention. Travel is a necessary part of the job that I actually enjoy. And it’s what we have to do to take care of our family.

But I also wanted to cheer her up. So I promised to Skype. And send postcards.

So Monday morning I woke up on the opposite coast to discover the internet wasn’t working in the hotel. I battled it for hours but couldn’t get the Skype to work before she left for school. So we talked on the phone. It was OK.

I didn’t get to call her again before she went to sleep, because of the time difference.  By the time I was able to call she was already asleep. So I went in search of a postcard. Part 2 of my promise.

But then I found out that the Orange County airport doesn’t have a mailbox.

I asked a few different shop owners in the airport, just to be sure.

And then I asked the sweet old Asian man in the Hudson News (he reminded me a bit of my Father in law), explaining that I was on a long business trip and wanted to send a card to my daughter (in terminal B…shop there if you’re in the John Wayne Airport.) He told me that if I wanted, he would mail my postcard to my daughter on his way home from work. That there was a mailbox by his home. I thanked him profusely as I started looking for the stamps I knew I packed somewhere. He quietly fished in his pocket and brought me over a stamp for my card.

I finished my message to my daughter, and brought the postcard over with some money for the stamp, and some extra for his kindness. He took the postcard and refused the money. He told me in his broken English that many people had been kind to him over the years, and I should pay it forward. With tears in my eyes I thanked him.

There is kindness in the most unexpected of places.