I am of the personal opinion that one does not have to be a decent person or whatever in order to help someone in need. You can still be mean and help an old lady cross the road. Y’know, mutually exclusive things.
I remember the first time I travelled alone. Everything had gone well from the time I checked in till I got to Egypt (to transit). When I got off the plane, I had no idea where I was going next. Everyone was heading in one direction: Baggage Claim. My baggage, however, was somewhere in the system, comfortably heading toward my next flight (which was the next day), and there I was, confused.
Then I saw this other black girl. She looked like she knew what she was doing, with her neck pillow and all the travel necessities. I decided to follow her, while reading the signs of course. It was a great idea till we got to a point where she turned in the opposite direction of where I was expecting her to go. I panicked.
Without giving myself enough time to think, I doubled my steps and walked up to her. “Hi!” She didn’t hear me. Of course she didn’t hear me. *I* could barely hear me! “HI!” she turned. I smiled. She didn’t. “Err… Hi.” Silence. “Please, I have no idea where I’m supposed to go next. My flight is tomorrow.” Pause.
Listen, those two words, were the best thing to happen to me that day. In spite of her “resting b*tch face” and cold aura, she took me to the desk I needed to go and made sure I’d been assisted. Then she told me her flight was in less than three hours so she couldn’t leave the airport with me. Then she went in the opposite direction. No goodbye, no good luck, no nice to meet you. Nothing. I’d like to say I never saw her again, but I did. Months later. When that happened, would you believe that this girl didn’t even act like we’d met before?!
The thing is, I kind of suck at remembering people. If I’m fortunate, I remember either a name or a face. So when I met this girl, I did not know who she was. After the introductions were made, halfway through conversation, when I finally put two and two together, I exclaimed, “Hey! You were the one who helped me in Cairo!” This girl just responded with a nonchalant “Yeah.”
She knew this the entire time and didn’t say anything?! Had I just embarrassed myself in front of all these strangers for a nonchalant ‘Yeah’?
I like her.
We ended up living in close proximity for about a year after that. We never became friends. We never hang out though we had mutual friends or acquaintances. A lot of people who knew her personally said she was problematic, rude… all that. One might conclude that, it was a good thing we remained strangers after that. Either way, whatever she was, or wasn’t, I’m grateful I saw her that evening at Cairo airport, terminal three.
A problematic, cold (yet kind to lost girls in the airport) young lady. Actually, has a nice ring to it. Don’t you think?
Let us be kind to others, in spite of ourselves. It really makes a difference in the world.
Dr Nyameba 💜