True Stories – stranger in the airport

I post these blogs whenever I happen upon an act of kindness–especially if it has some unique twist. Sometimes they’re people I know, and sometimes just strangers whose kindness I witness. These are the people that represent Jesus to the rest of us, and they think no one’s looking.

THE STORY:

Who knew Arkansas Regional Airport would be the site of such an interesting act of love? With only ten or so terminals and one restaurant, the place was nearly empty. But there were two people there who would impact each others’ lives.

I was scoping out the Sudoku books when I caught sight of an ancient man hobbling up to the cashier, holding out a bundle of flowers. They shook in his unsteady hand. The cashier waited patiently as he unfolded his cash with all the speed of thickened syrup. Finally he extracted a bill and placed it on the counter.

“This is a one, sir,” said the youth behind the counter. “The flowers are $18.46 with tax.”

The man took the bill back and held it about an inch from his face. “That there’s a $20,” he said, holding it out again. I couldn’t see his eyes well, but they were glassy blue from what I could see.

The cashier stayed remarkably patient. “Do you have any other 20s?”

The man began to dig through his tiny wad again, but it was clear they were all ones. And there definitely weren’t 18 of them. Finally, the middle-aged man standing with him held a 20 over the older man’s shoulder while the flower-buyer was still inspecting his cash at close range. The cashier nodded, sharing a look with the man, and accepted the money.

“Ok, you’re all clear, sir.” He handed the flowers to the man.

“Where’s my change?!”

The cashier and the other man exchanged looks again, and the cashier handed the older man the change. “All set.”

The older man grumbled and pocketed the cash. I was touched at this son’s quiet actions that allowed the older man to maintain his pride.

THE TWIST:

After the interaction, I learned my assumptions had been wrong. The middle-aged man smiled and walked back to the shelves, replaced cough medicine and other assorted little items, and left the store. Alone.

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