It happened again. This time the strike came at San Francisco International Airport. I was going through my usual airport routine. Check in. Bag on the scale.
"Have a nice flight."
I was a little distracted. My attention and in fact imagination were captivated by a family, whom I first saw while checking in and who now once again were standing some insignificant distance to my left. What struck me about them was how much they were obviously enjoying each other's company on this early morning, in a line liked by few. There they were, three cheerful faces. A handsomely dressed dad, with an air of a rock star at the sunset of his fame. A beautiful, fit beyond her years mom with a perfectly blown out blond coif. It's worth remembering now that it is still 7:30 am at an airport. Finally, a teenage son, residing within normal levels of teenage sulkiness, with an unruly mop of dirty blond curls spilling out of his baseball hat.
The three of them were completely at ease, cheerful even. You'd think they were standing in line to buy ice cream cones on a boardwalk, not at an airport being forced to remove their shoes and greet a floor covered with unknown substances of various textures and scents. Beautiful blond mom was smiling at the scruffy rocker dad. Dad was teasingly pinching his son's also somewhat scruffy cheek. It looked as if the three of them were traveling in a their very own bubble of happy. A bubble full of funny stories from blond mom and rocker dad's early dating days filled with daring adventures they did not abandon even after the curly haired, acceptably grumpy teenager was born.
Some walking. Security check line. Appropriately heeled shoe off. Hefty cast off. Both in a bin. Bin moving in the direction of the x-ray machine.
"Are you OK walking without that on?"
It took me a few moments to realize someone was addressing me. I turned around and looked at the uniformed woman's face. She looked peacefully concerned. It is worth noting that this was not my first time flying with the cast. We had a wonderful vacation in Dominican Republic a year earlier, and a couple of prior business trips to San Francisco. However, this was the very first time someone asked if I was OK walking without it. I was floored. I quickly responded yes and started to walk towards the occasionally beeping gate.
Then, something stopped me. I turned around and said to the woman:
"I really appreciate you asking me. Thank you."
She gave me a small smile and for a moment we were in a bubble of our own. This bubble was filled with unexpected kindness and surprised gratitude. In that bubble we were not assistant and passanger. We were just two people, one in distress and the other taking note and care.