I missed my flight to Nashville, Tennessee, because I was standing in line at security. It was the weekend of the manhunt in Boston and airport security / TSA were on high alert. All bags were being checked. All documentation was being thoroughly screened. I had an hour to make it through security and to the gate for departure. After a mad dash leaving me disheveled and breathless, I arrived at the gate as the attendant closed the doors to the flight. She instructed me as well as two other passengers that once the paperwork is filed, there is no admittance. I dragged my frazzled self and heavy suitcase to customer service to re-book.
Forty-seven minutes of my sixty had been spent standing between the nylon bands in the security screening line. As the other passengers and I realized the glacial pace of the line, we started sharing flight information. The gentleman in front of me was going to Boston and his flight was scheduled four minutes before mine. We wondered aloud if he would make it. I turned to the lady behind me in line and noticed she had tears in her eyes. Gently, I asked her about where she was headed. She shared that she and her husband had traveled to North Carolina for her son’s birthday, and while away, the bombings had occurred near her neighborhood in Boston. Because of frequent flier miles, she was taking a different flight than her husband, and she was feeling left behind. She started to cry. Gently, I asked if she was alright, and she said, “Boston is home. I want to be in my city with my people. Instead I am standing in this line and I know I am going to miss my flight. My husband flew home last night, and he told me Logan airport is terribly difficult to navigate right now. I need to be home, and I am stuck here.” My heart hurt for her and my words were, “I hope this trip goes far easier than expected and I hope you make it safely home. I am sorry this is happening.” With that, she dried her eyes and changed the subject back to, “Is this line moving?”
I do not know if I said or did the right thing. Her hurt was so fragile, and all I had at hand were words. However, I am a firm believer in kindness birthing hope. I knew I could not make that line move faster or will the airplane to wait for her, but I knew I could be kind. Kindness always feels like answered prayers to me. When I am most overwhelmed I pray for God to not abandon me. As I go through the chaotic day, I look for the kind gestures, smiles, and words because that is God answering my prayers. I hope my kindness made a difference to my Bostonian friend. And I hope God placed many along her path home who could birth hope through kindness.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.