Ok, so my fam and I just got back from Mexico, so there will be an upcoming blog entry about the lovely trip complete with sunburns and lost luggage. But, before I get to the nitty gritty, something occurred on our way back yesterday that I hope will stay with me forever. I hope to remember it every time I think about the nasty way we human beings treat each other and I hope to embrace it every time I am given an opportunity to behave the same way.
Back story... So, as mentioned, yesterday we traveled back home from Mexico. The check in at the Cancun airport took 2 hours. Two sweaty, crying, tantrum, crabby and for one wee traveler... diarrhea filled hours. Yuck. The first leg of our flight took 3 hours. Three hours of kids being troopers. Tired, napping, uncomfortable... but trooping their way back home. Bucking up, as we call it in our family. Then, customs. 45 minutes in a crowded line at customs with kids crying, exhausted, confused, hungry... and that is where my story starts.
First, to Abby. Abby from Carrollton, Illinois who I don't know and will never see again. Thank you for entertaining Will. Thank you for talking to him and playing I Spy with him in your carry on bag. Thank you for making him laugh, when all Mark and I could do is make him cry harder. Being in a situation with crying kids that you cannot fix is a parent's worst nightmare, and you made it bearable for us all. Thank you, Abby from Illinois.
By the time we were leaving customs, we have 8 minutes to catch our next flight. Not a typo, 8 minutes. Really. We ran up to security to get to our gate and the TSA staff wouldn't let us cut. My kids were crying. I was near tears as I already had been told that the next flight was 4 hours later and at this point, completely full. There was little to no way that our family of five would get on. But, the seas parted and every single person of the 50 or so in line ahead of us, let us cut to the front. One couple offered, then suddenly the entire line stepped to the side to let us pass. The parents traveling without kids did with looks of "been there, done that" on their faces, but then college students let us pass, business men motioned us ahead with their briefcases... Total strangers stepped aside and let us pass. I was so overcome with gratitude that I could barely choke out the thank yous. These people who I don't know, these people trying to get to their own destinations on time, stepped aside and demonstrated a generosity that you don't see anymore... especially in the world of cut throat airport security lines! We raced to the head of the line and threw our items on the belt and prayed that the 6 minutes we had left would be enough.
I took off running, barefoot, with Will and Jack in tow yelling to Mark and Tabbi to get the stroller and bags after they went through the scanner and meet us at the gate. I carried Jack like a sack of potatoes and I pulled Will through the moving walkways (which hurts your feet when you are barefoot, by the way) and yanked him behind me all the while he was bawling and screaming "Stop, Mommy! Slow down!" Then, an angel stopped to help me. An angel in the form of a woman driving a handicap cart. She picked our disheveled threesome up and whisked us away to gate C 14. I have never felt so happy to be the center of attention in all my life as when she yelled at people to get out of way as we flew down concourse C.
When we got to the gate, the plane was closed. Doors shut. The end. I felt a brick settle into my chest. Until, the gate attendant said the most beautiful words I have ever heard, "Let me see if we can get them to open it back up." I prayed and begged and thanked them 100 times over as they agreed to let us on. The doors opened right as Tabbi and Mark ran up with our carry on items and lo and behold we made our flight. We sunk into the first seats we could find and I nearly cried tears of exhaustion and gratitude.
Then, Will started whining about being hungry. Flights don't give out food anymore and our promised stop at the snack stand didn't fit into our 8 minute dash. So, the woman across the aisle offered us her Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. Will and Jack each got a cup and at that moment, I could have hugged that woman. I know she lives in this area, so if anyone tells you about donating their Reece's to kids on a plane, let me know. I will happily buy her a case to say thank you!
To Abby, and the people in security, my driver from heaven, that gate attendant who didn't just dismiss us and the lady with the chocolate... I am not sure they could ever know what they did for us yesterday. Something so minuscule in their day ended up being monumental in mine. The next full flight from Charlotte ended up being postponed til 11:30 last night. And even then, I don't know if we would have gotten on. So, these wonderful people, in a time of greed and selfishness, gave us the gift of our home. And I just hope that some day either they stumble across this entry and realize it was them or, perhaps even better, some day I will have a chance to pass this gift along. I hope we all do.