“Smile! You should be smiling…” said a cheery gal clad in purple from behind the airport counter. Many folks assume that airline professionals are generally moody and unkind. I have to heartily disagree. A lovely woman named Valerie, who was training a younger guy, greeted Peter and me with kindness and set a happy tone for our long-awaited France getaway. Following this positive encounter at Boston Logan airport, I overheard a woman racing after another woman who had left her passport in the bathroom. Whoa…another overly kind gesture between total strangers. Can you imagine if the first woman actually lost her passport? (She didn’t, by the way.)
After all of this, Peter and I settled into a Terminal E restaurant for a preflight meal. As we ordered, I was careful to share my allergies with the server. Can you imagine my surprise when this young man responded “don’t worry, I’ll speak to my manager and we’ll make sure your meal is safe for you to eat.” Okay…what is happening, I thought, isn’t air travel supposed to be difficult? As a small girl, my beautiful mom Joan, a woman who assumed the best in each person she met, taught me that we receive what we give out. While it may not always work out as it did for us today, chances are good that if we assume the best in someone, they will return our good intentions with kindness and love.
I plan to take this wonderful reminder with me all the way to Paris. I will surely assume the best in every person we meet, in every difficult language conversation we experience and in every new place we visit – regardless of the circumstance. To receive love, we have to give it. To want it, we have to will it. It’s really quite simple as Joan taught me.
After a 5 hour flight, we landed at Keflavik airport in Iceland with little difficulty. While I didn’t understand the gate connections being announced in Icelandic, I didn’t worry. The flight professionals were very kind and directed us to our gates in English. As I was getting a quick coffee before the connection, I commented to a local gentleman about his better looking coffee. The man stopped what he was doing and offered to help me “redo” my coffee, which didn’t look very good. Time was not on my side, so I passed, appreciating his kind gesture nonetheless.
After a turbulent flight to Paris, we arrived after 3 long hours. I was so happy to get off of that plane and walk around the airport. Again, every person we met was helpful and kind and we finally found our way to the taxi stand. Upon entering the Marais neighborhood, we were met by a fantastic person and personal friend of one of our Boston friends. David is a professor of French literature at NYU in Paris and was eager to help us get settled in the apartment. He even offered to have us visit his university which has “stunning views of Paris.” You can be sure we will take him up on this kind offer.
During a leisurely afternoon walk around the Marais, we enjoyed famous sites such as the Place de la Bastille, Victor Hugo’s apartment, the beautiful Place de Vosges and the historic Hotel de Sully. Then, we were ready for some refreshments. We stopped at a local cafe, sat outside and enjoyed lunch (I had a GF crepe with chicken and avocado) with a few glasses of tasty French wine. The city is amazing – truly alive and teaming with people from all over Europe. We’ve enjoyed our first few hours, complete with the kindness afforded to complete strangers. I pray that folks who visit the United States experience this same sense of kindness and love. After all, where there is kindness and love, there is joy.