A few days ago my husband and I were traveling through the Dallas airport. During our layover we each ran to our respective bathrooms.
While walking past the sinks to the stalls, I happened to see a woman carrying a thirty-one bag. Which I noticed, because I have a small addiction to their products. So, like the goofball that I am, I say “nice bag, thirty-one, right?” She says “yes!” and gives me the secret “we are addicted to thirty-one” head nod. So, I’m laughing at myself as I walk to my stall.
I go into the stall, and again, I laugh because I’ve taken my paper bag from Whole Foods (we had a picnic at our first airport and I was carrying dessert) and punched through it with the hook on the bathroom door. I almost took a picture of it because it was so ridiculous, but I try not to take pictures in the bathroom. Honestly, I do.
So, I’m doing my business and notice that the stall next to me appears to have flooded. Well, that just means I sort of scooch my feet closer to me so that I don’t get any toilet water on me. Then I see that the woman has her bare feet in the water. I about die. I am not happy with this and can’t imagine what is happening over there.
I leave my stall and notice that the maintenance woman is hovering outside of the stall next to me. And she looks very displeased. I rush to the sinks and while I’m washing my hands I hear the woman in the stall say to the maintenance woman, in a quivering voice, “I am so sorry. I’m pregnant and I lost control of my bowels and I had no choice.” She is clearly crying. And barely hanging on.
So, I dry my hands, grab my paper bag, and go back to the stalls and say “Hi, how can I help you?” Now, this woman is gorgeous. And I mean that sincerely. She’s petite, olive skinned, long dark hair, almond eyes. Just breathtaking. And she’s crying. I can’t have that. It’s just not in my DNA. (I mention her appearance to highlight a prejudice of mine. In my head, I figure that nothing can ever go wrong in her life. She’s gorgeous. She’s pregnant. She’s a size nothing. So her life has to be perfect. How wrong I was. How wrong we all are to judge someone based on appearance.)
She looks at me like I’m a mirage. I say “What do you need? I’ll go find it.” She says she doesn’t even know. Tells me again what happened. I say “I’ll go forage, I’ll find you something to wear. I’ll be back. I promise.”
I start to leave the bathroom, and walk through the corridor into the terminal and a lady who’s wheeling her bag has clearly heard this interaction, and she steps aside and says “You first. it’s more important.” So I smile at her. And I’m tearing up.
Why? Because I feel like I’ve been given an assignment and I CAN NOT fail. So I call my husband, who’s supposed to meet me outside of the men’s room and we will then rush to our next gate. I say “Hey, it’s me, everything is okay, but I need a few minutes. Actually, you can help. I’m going left, you go right. We need pants or shorts or something for a lady I just met in the bathroom. She’s pregnant and needs our help. She’s TINY, so like a size TINY. Let me know if you find something.”
I go to the first shop I find. And this is DFW, there are so many shops, this shouldn’t be hard at all. I say “Do you have any pants or shorts? Sweatpants? Anything?” She shows me a pair of children’s pajama bottoms, which might fit a two year old. In hindsight, they might have actually been a good thing for this lady, sort of like a modern trendy legging.
I go to the next store. Nothing. I go to a third store, nothing there either. At the fourth store I finally decide that she’s getting a large t-shirt. I ask the man what the largest size t-shirt is that he sells. He says XXL. Perfect. Can you grab me one? He gets a Dallas Cowboys shirt. Ummm, that’s a problem for me, since I’m from Philadelphia. I say “No Cowboys!” So he gets a University of Texas t-shirt. Perfect. I make him promise me that if I bring this back within ten minutes that he will give me my money back, and not a store credit. Seriously. I did that. My issues supersede naked ladies in the bathroom. What can I say? At least I’m consistent.
I rush back to the bathroom and stand outside the stall and say “Hi, it’s me. The crazy lady who inserted herself into your life…” She opens the door and I start apologizing profusely to this lady because I couldn’t find her any pants or shorts. I say “I hope an XXL Texas shirt works for you. It’s a trendy mini-dress!” She says “Well, I’m more of an A&M gal”, and I knew she was my people. Not that I’m an A&M gal (Go Aggies?), but I love that she can be snarky in this situation.
I give her her shirt and tell her it’s all okay. That this is no big thing, just get dressed and make your flight. And then leave.
As I’m walking out this time my husband calls me and says “Size 2 shorts from Brooks Brothers???” I say “that might have been perfect, but she just ripped off the tag from the t-shirt, so it’s too late.” This is the way I think. Oy.
In retrospect, I should have done the following:
1) gotten her name. Hi, I’m Lisa, what’s your name? How can I help you?
2) given her a BIG giant hug.
3) asked her if she preferred the shorts and just kept the Texas shirt for myself.
What is the point of this post? To show that we are all human. And that we just never know what’s going on two feet away from us. I mean, I was sort of grossed out by a lady standing barefoot in toilet water. And within three minutes I had inserted myself into the situation and helped her along her way. I’m not tooting my own horn, or not trying to. I am trying to make us all better people. Just a wee bit of kindness in the middle of an airport, to a stranger, that I’ll never see again. It was my absolute honor and privilege to help her. And I am pretty sure that I got more out of the situation than she did.
We all have the opportunity to be kind. Every day we can choose to do so. And while I appreciate some good snark, I really do try to be a good and kind human being. And I hope that we all will take the opportunity to help others, especially when it doesn’t help ourselves. Because you know what? It does.
Doing the right thing feels so very good.