So I’m in the Dallas airport at gate A29 having my typical lunch at Pappasito’s after an incredible week in Boston at the Magowitz event. (More on that next week.) My mother calls me in tears as she has been riding out Hurricane Harvey with my Dad, sister, brother and his wife and two kids. To say that they have been under tremendous stress would be an understatement.
My mom tells me that they have lost their home to flooding and it looks like my brother is going to lose his as well. That means pretty much everything you own is ruined, and the house that you look forward to going to every night as your place to seek refuge and peace is gone. My eyes begin to well up and tears start rolling down my cheeks as I hear the distress in my Mom’s voice, realizing that their life and the lives of so many others have taken a serious detour.
I hang up the phone and start to dry my eyes and when I look up this lady is standing in front of me. At that point I realize I’m in a public place and I feel a little stupid crying in my food. She says to me, “it looks like you are having a tough day and could use a hug, do you mind if I give you one?” “Not at all”, was my quick response. This lady didn’t know me. She had no idea if I would tell her to get lost, or if I was a creep, but she knew that she could help; and she did.
I want to make a simple point. Don’t ever underestimate your ability to make an impact on a friend or a complete stranger. Remember to call someone after their medical test to see how they are, call a friend on a birthday, pick up a check for a soldier in a restaurant, or in this case, deliver a well timed hug. The little things are what make the biggest impact and all it takes is some empathy and heart. Think outside of yourself. Always.
There are going to be many more tears, more random acts of kindness, and a lot of hard work ahead. (Harvey delivered 19 trillion gallons of water with over 51″ of rain pushing 19,000 people into shelters so far.) Events like this bring out the worst in people like looters and contractors that take advantage of a situation. But it can also bring out the very best which we are already seeing on the news reports.
Make a call. Send out a prayer. Donate some money. Travel to Houston with your church or friend group and donate your time to rebuild a home. I promise you that you will never give more than you get in a situation like that. Or if you see someone in an airport having a tough day offer them a hug or a pat on their back, you never know what it could do. It sure made me feel better.