Over the last few days, I’ve experienced some wonderful moments of kindness and human connection from complete strangers. This happened while traveling to the Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina. In all of these little moments, I’ve found myself pondering how much can be shifted or deepened in a simple moment of kindness or connection. Three vignettes. . .
1) On Friday, I walked up to the Enterprise Rent-a-Car counter to complete a reservation and pick up a car. The person behind the counter was really wonderful, so beyond going through forms and handing over a credit card, we struck up a personal conversation too. We talked about where I live (and of course, how cold it still is). When I shared that this was my first time in Asheville, she told me she moved here just six months ago and absolutely loves the area. “Oh, where did you move from?”
She told me about where she used to live, which happens to be the place where another person in my life is likely to move soon. I began to talk up this person and this opportunity (both of which are so easy to do!) and she became very excited about all of this. She handed me her card, “Well, I want you to tell this young person that I’m really proud of them!”
I loved passing that along. “I just want you to know that [Name] at the Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Asheville is very proud of you.”
2) I was supposed to fly home yesterday, but in the end, that just wasn’t going to be in the cards.
When I woke up, I had a text that my first flight was going to be delayed. I wasn’t going to be able to make my connection in Atlanta, so I thought I should probably call Delta. It turns out that lots of people were being rerouted, delayed, or stranded where they were because of severe weather in the Northeast. When I called, I learned that the hold time was two hours long! There was an option for Delta to call me back, so I chose that.
About two hours later, I received that call, and I began to talk with an agent. I could make that first flight to Atlanta, but all the flights out of there to Detroit were completely full. We began to think about other connections, but those were looking iffy too. I said, “If all things are equal, and it’s likely that I’m going to have to stay overnight somewhere, I think I’d still like to fly to Atlanta because I have people I could stay with there. Then I can fly out the next day.” (Bonus visit! Which, by the way, has been wonderful!) So that’s what we ended up doing.
Then as we were finishing, she said to me,
“I just want you to know that you’ve been my favorite customer so far today. . .” It was really kind. Her voice trailed off a bit though so it was clear there was more to that story. “Oh, I bet people have been really irate today, haven’t they?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
All morning, she had been dealing with irritable people one after one. I really hadn’t done anything especially kind in comparison. I was just pretty chill about the whole thing.
She said, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
I answered gently, “Take care of yourself today. It sounds like it’s going to be a long day.”
It was lovely to connect personally over the phone in this way.
3) When I arrived at the Asheville airport, I was there pretty early, so I ate some food and spent some time at the front before going through security. When I did check in and go through security, I learned that I still had the keys to my rental car in my pocket! I had turned in the car and hour and a half before, but I had accidentally held onto the keys.
I finished security and called Enterprise. I said I would come to the counter, hand the keys over, and go through security again. It all worked out.
I headed toward the security line the second time. To give you a sense of how small the Asheville airport is, there was literally no one in line for my second journey. Just me. So I walked up to the first TSA agent, and in a sing-songy way, I said, “I’m baaaaaaack!” I handed her my boarding pass and license once more, and that’s when things shifted in the moment.
“You were born the same day as my son,” she said, seeing this license in a new way the second time. She said my birth date aloud — month, day, and year. Then with such tenderness in her voice, she said, “You’re 36 now.”
“Mmh hmm,” I answered, smiling.
“You could be my daughter,” she said declaratively with some awe in her voice. She said all of this with appreciation, authentically grateful for my presence in front of her.
I kept smiling. This was a really sweet connection I didn’t expect.
She added, “He’s coming over here soon!” She is really looking forward to this, and it’s lovely.
As I stepped away, I said, “Well, please tell your son that he has a twin in the world.”
This little interaction just filled me. All of them did. Three moments with complete strangers. I think we want to live in a world where these kinds of experiences can happen more often. And, frankly, they can. They do. Whether giving or receiving them, or both, they can be cultivated. And they really shift things.