On a recent trip, as I waited for my flight in the airport, I sat at a charging port to plug my cell phone. To my right was a payphone – something I hadn’t seen for quite some time – let alone one in use. A man walked up to the payphone and begin placing coins on the ledge as he scooped them from the bottom of a carry-on bag. Now, I know we ought not judge people by appearance, but the truth is, we do. I immediately noticed that this man, seemingly in his mid to late 60s, looked a bit disheveled. I actually wondered how he made it past security in the airport but there he was with the rest of us about to board a flight. I observed as he tried to figure out the payphone to make his call. One after one, he dropped the coins into the payphone and pressed the buttons to make his call. I could hear him explaining to the person on the other end the purpose of his call. He was trying to reach anybody he could speak with in the personnel department of a major car manufacturing company. He was flying out there with hopes of connecting. He was looking for a job.
Whatever extension he was connected to met with no luck. Someone’s voice mail. He began digging into the bottom of his bag again – and I could tell he was pretty much out of coins. (Not in the picture above, there is one coin left on the shelf). I felt sorry for him.
“Sir,” I said, “Is there something I can help you with?” He confirmed what I had overheard and said something that took me way back to the 70s. “I need to call information.” My goodness. I hadn’t heard that in decades. Information? He needed to get another number. “I don’t mind helping you out on my cell phone.” He seemed baffled at my offer and shared that he didn’t have a cell phone. I remember thinking to myself gosh I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t have a cell phone!! But I proceeded to assist by googling and finding numbers and calling the numbers on his behalf. There was no human voice to assist for any of the calls but I was at least able to write down the numbers he needed so that he could try again once he landed at his destination. He was extremely grateful and thanked me profusely. But what he asked me next, in his gesture of gratitude, really touched my heart. “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” I couldn’t allow this man to spend any money on me. In fact, I wished, after he walked off, that I had handed HIM so money and wished him well in his quest to be employed.
What a chance he was taking to go seek his dream. I thought about him for the duration of my flight and he has remained on my mind ever since. I never got his name. But I have prayed time and time again that he is doing well.
You see, in life, sometimes it’s the little acts of kindness we do that make a difference to someone else’s life and in doing so, it helps us as well to put some things into perspective – especially the things we take for granted. I encourage you to reach out, reach up, and reach down. You just never know what your gesture can even do for yourself.