“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
by Todd Foley
I saw the cutest thing today, but I’ll get to that later.
My wife and I had just cleared security on our way back home from vacationing, bought dinner at the airport food court and found a seat outside our gate. I was tired. Sweaty. Hungry. Ready to be home.
An older man and his wife sat down next to us, asking is an array of questions: Do we fly regularly? Where do we live? What do we do for a living? How do we find affordable tickets with Westjet?
I hate small talk.
All I wanted was to eat my food in peace. The talking continued. Each passing moment, though, I found myself enjoying the conversation. He shared about his journey to where he lives now, about his son’s life, etc. Turns out this man’s Bible study leader and I work at the same company.
Then I saw the cute thing.
I’ll paint the picture: our waiting area was separated from another part of the airport by a long glass wall. On each side was a young couple, both with two young boys – I’m guessing ages three and one.
When the two sets of brothers discovered each other, they both ran up to the glass and waved to one another, running back and forth.
Shouting with joy.
Free of inhibition or social constraints.
The fathers on each side observed the boys’ interaction. Then the mothers started watching. Passengers on both sides of the glass looked on. Everyone – myself included – was captivated by the boys’ blissful ignorance.
I looked over to the older gentleman and his wife. Something more tame but equally meaningful had just occurred between us. The ironic part is that I initially wanted to go about dinner in silence rather than talk with a stranger. Thanks to that interruption, I made a friend.
I looked back to the boys. Still running. Still smiling. Still squealing with joy.
What if we all interacted with one another like this? What if perfect strangers could become friends?
It could happen. I could make it happen.
Most days, though, I would rather eat my meal in silence.
I presented my boarding pass to the flight attendant and began to walk down the tunnel. I turned my head, made eye contact with my new friend and smiled. He smiled back and waved.
I don’t know his name. I’ll likely never see him again.
But I’ll remember him.
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
– E.B. White [Charlotte, “Charlotte’s Web”]