It was four o’clock in the morning when my alarm went off. Despite being groggy, I was excited to grab my bags, head to the airport, and leave the coldest part of Canadian winter behind for sunny Arizona.
Checking in for my flight, I pictured the destination and felt a smile take over my sleepy face. I was on my way back to Eponaquest to continue my intensive studies with Linda Kohanov, and I would soon become an Advanced Instructor.
Security at the airport is always intense. I generally get very little hassle through this process – I’m certain I benefit from the privilege of being white and female. Nonetheless, I still felt my blood pressure rise as I waited in line to go through customs.
I people watched my way through the line-up. I did my best to breathe deeply and have positive self-talk while witnessing the border guards angrily grabbing documents out of quivering hands. It appeared to be part of the job description to scowl, be generally intimidating and hostile.
Although I had wished the line would move quickly when I first queued, I felt my body drawing back as my turn approached. All is well, I told myself as my palms began to sweat.
The woman directing human traffic pointed for me to go to booth one. I nonchalantly walked over as if I really wasn’t nervous at all. I almost convinced myself.
Handing over my passport, I tried not to fumble with the page but it was a clumsy pass to be sure. Smiling, the boarder guard took it from me.
“Tucson!” he exclaimed. “Have you been before?”
“Yes.” I replied, uncertain where he was taking this.
“I love Tucson. I love the food! Have you explored much of the restaurant scene there?”
He seemed genuinely interested, and I was beginning to loosen up. “Only a little, but it’s been good.”
“Well, let me tell you my favourite places to go – hopefully you can check them out while you’re there.” The shockingly friendly boarder guard continued to list off several of his favourite spots, emphasizing the street food.
Wishing me a wonderful trip, he handed back my passport and I walked away smiling from ear-to-ear.
This may seem like a small event, but to be completely cliché, it’s the small stuff that counts. Pleasant little gestures, an authentic smile, or understanding eye contact can make a world of difference for someone on the receiving end. This is particularly true when we are in a position of authority. Whether we are a boss or manager at work, a teacher, a mentor, or a border guard, we have the ability to tear someone down or build them up. Why not choose the latter?
In a world that can feel overrun with pain, and intoxicatingly endless news cycles, it is easy to be sucked into feeling powerless. Little moments of connection remind me of a more uplifting reality.
We all have the power to be kind to one another, including to ourselves. Let’s use it.
How have you received kindness?
How will you be kind today?
This is part of a continuing story, click here to start from the beginning.
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