I was lugging my full-size suitcase and Taylor guitar hard case on the Philadelphia train heading to the airport. I had been given instructions on transfers, but had different advice from various sources, so I a felt a little at the mercy of the train gods. I talked to the Porter when he came around. He was a tall black man in his 30’s. His name was Jared. He watched me attempting to wrangle my guitar into a seat and smiled. When he came through for the ticket, I asked him about the best transfer option. I was relieved when he told me what he thought would be the best route.If I couldn’t trust him on train transfers, who could I trust?
As we approached my stop he walked back to me and said, “I think if I flag down the train, you can make it without having to wait for a half an hour!” I drug myself to the companionway, ready to go. He opened the door as we were slowing down, leaned out, and yelled, “Larry! I got one for ya!” I watched the other porter wave. When the train stopped, he grabbed my guitar case and dodged people heading the other direction. “Follow me!” he said. I hadn’t expected for him to lead the way! We scooted sideways between the moving train and large support pillars. For a moment I felt like I was a child again, running through the orchard behind the old Bleisner house, pretending I was being chased by bad guys. The train came to a stop and I jumped on the final train to the airport while Jared waved me on and said, “Come back to Philly sometime soon!” And he was off.
It was a chilly, windy Sunday evening. I was hungry after working all morning followed by four hours of Christmas shopping. My feet we sore and I was at the point of fatigue. Although I treasure the opportunity to give to my friends and family, I truly hate mall shopping. I could give up the mall for the rest of my life and not look back.
In lieu of quesadillas, I stopped by the Mediterranean Kitchen to pick up a mezza plate, one of my favorites: roasted cauliflower, babganoush, pickled beets, tabouli, and hummous. They were heaping servings with enough garlic to scare off the worst vampire.
I stood for a little while by the door. The waiter pulled out a chair at a table for me to sit down and wait. I sat watching the heaping plates of food. Shortly, the waiter came from the back with a bowl of lentil soup and set it down in front of me. Above and beyond the call of duty! He had nothing to gain from this small, kind act.
It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day; to take an extra step or two help someone. During these dark days of winter, as the frenzy of Christmas overtakes us, I want to remember that there will be people directly in my path who need some extra kindness.
In light of the grief in Newtown and across the country right now, it seems like something we can do to shine some light into the darkness. Every little thing we do matters these days. Let’s not fall prey to inertia which tells us we are powerless. It will keep us anxious and unhappy our whole lives.