Awesome Stuff: Airport People

I am constantly humbled and amazed by the generosity, kindness, and patriotism of truly random folks you meet in places like airports.  We all know that I was on a trip to Fort Campbell.  This took me from Kansas City to Memphis and then on to Nashville.  In my layover in Memphis coming home, I had the chance to sample the Neely’s barbecue.  Not bad overall, I’ll admit; the pulled pork on a bun with slaw always works.

So as I am placing my order for my sandwich, I have to hunt through my stuff to find my wallet (removed to enable not being tazed going through the TSA obstacle course).  While I was distracted by myself, a very kind woman apparently had already whipped out her credit card and paid for my lunch. 

Now, I’ve had people buy me food before, and it always strikes me deeply.  It is a truly humbling experience.  I do normally travel for the Army in uniform, not to fish for freebies but rather because it is the easiest way to get combat boots and long-sleeve utilities and pants where you’re going easily without too many wrinkles.  Believe me, in summer months my cargo shorts and a plain yet conservative tee shirt (I have two or three) would be far more comfortable (just ask Fred – he goes everywhere sans pants). 

So after thanking the lady several times, I set my stuff down and thought to fire up my BlackBerry and snap her picture and make her famous right here.  Unfortunately, this ninja woman will remain overly-thanked but undocumented: she collected her own lunch, a napkin or two, and vanished into the surge of freaks and geeks trawling the terminal.  I (and you too, dear reader) will never know her motivation or anything else.

If you’ve ever been in a position to do something like this for a Servicemember, thanks.  The lady today, the airline pilot in Dallas who bought my final Big Mac before I went to Afghanistan, the lady who bought me a water seeing me sweaty after hustling through the terminal thinking my flight was about to leave (but was delayed) – and a few others, thank you.  I’d encourage you to either do it again, or go ahead and don’t be shy if you’ve thought of it but hesitated.  Look for the young kids, possibly in street clothes but carrying a telltale camouflage backpack.  The bright-eyed, square-jawed young men and women who walk with shoulders thrown back but have a doubtful look in the eye, uncertain about where their destination will lead them or maybe holding up bravely over someone left behind.

I guess one point of this entry is to thank all the kind and generous people who have insisted on buying my meal, bottle of overpriced airport water, or snack-in-a-bag.  Small kindnesses like these continue to support my belief – and relief – that we may just have matured as a society since the 1970’s, finally understanding that under the system we live in, the Soldier is separated from the responsibility of war other than the gritty prosecution of it itself.  We have finally come to the place where we can demonstrate against a war but thank those that execute the small details of it.  Being a Soldier and somewhat of an amateur consumer of history, I am thankful for that.

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One Response to “Awesome Stuff: Airport People”

  1. SWEETNESS Says:

    GOOD STUFF MATTHEW!!!!

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