AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: April 18, 2011 | COMMENTS: 6 Comments
CATEGORIES: Tags: ask for help, challenges, kindness
I’m a people watcher. I don’t know why, but when I’m stuck waiting in line or wherever, instead of checking my cell phone, email or reorganizing my purse, I watch people. After years of practicing this nosey habit, I think I’ve become quite observant and can usually develop a pretty accurate impression of a person by watching them for a few minutes. Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, I know it’s important not to judge a person by the way they look, but “watching” is different than “looking”. When you are looking you are noticing a person’s visual presence. When watching someone you are sensing their personalities through things like facial expressions and body language. The best part about being a people watcher is that sometimes I get to watch someone make a positive impact on everyone around them. That very thing happened just last week when I was watching while waiting in the security line at Laguardia International Airport. I noticed two men in front of me. One was nice looking… not in a handsome kind of way but in a “nice energy” kind of way. Next to him was another man who was quite handsome but not a nice guy. How did I know? I can’t explain it. He just exuded jerkiness.
Further ahead in line were two women traveling together with a brood of children. Non-English speaking, the women were having trouble understanding the TSA agents while simultaneously wrangling a three year old, two year old and infant twins. Adding to the spectacle, the women had two strollers, two infant car seats, four diaper bags and two purses. When I surveyed their stuff (and after having navigated several airport security screenings while traveling alone with Mary Kate) I knew that this family was in for a nightmare. I wondered how they were going to navigate the screening because I knew TSA asks parents to carry their infants/toddlers through the metal detectors. The kids in this scenario outnumbered the adults 2:1.
Adding to the chaos, both of the older children must have thought their shoes were being stolen as they were removed and tossed into a bin only to disappear into the x-ray machine. It was quite obvious that a toddler meltdown of nuclear proportion was on the horizon. Making matters worse, as the women removed the infants from their car seats and collapsed their strollers in order to shove them through the x-ray machine, one of the diaper bags tipped knocking a full bottle of formula onto the conveyer belt. It was complete bedlam. I wanted to help but I hadn’t cleared security, so there was nothing I could do but hope that someone on the other side would lend them a hand.
Fast forward to the two men I had been watching earlier. The handsome man with the jerky energy was directed to the line where the chaos was unfolding. I could tell he was annoyed as he glared at the women impatiently. Eventually, he cut in front of the family, slamming his bag and shoes onto the belt, while making a loud quip about how people traveling with kids should be more organized. By this time, the oldest child was on the ground in a full blown tantrum and the women were helpless because they were each holding an infant as their car seats and strollers had been taken for screening. Soon the second man cleared the check point. Even though he was directed to a different security line, he b-lined it straight to the women like a night-in-shining-armor. I saw him talk to the mother and although I couldn’t hear what he was saying, I could see his smile. I watched as he calmly put his belongings through the x-ray, clapped his hands together and loudly said, “Okay…Hand them over!” Without hesitation, both women handed him the infants and he carried them, one in each arm, through the metal detector. His act of kindness freed both women to scoop up the screaming toddlers and shepherd them through the screening. I swear you could hear a collective sigh of relief as their party of six crossed over to the other side.
As I watched I noted the positive impact the man’s kindness had on everyone paying attention. You could see the TSA agents smile, the people in line smiled, and…shoot…I practically cried. (That’s just me though. I cry at the drop of a hat.) The man’s act was a gift—A gift to not only the family that needed his help, but to everyone in the vicinity. His actions reminded me of the power of kindness. I was definitely glad I was watching!