Sunday, October 22, 2023

We Must Do

These days a simple act of kindness is rare.   I was the recipient of one such simple act the other day.

It was a short flight from Austin to DFW.  The flight was a fully loaded regional jet with limited space for carry-on luggage.  Luckily, I did manage to get my small roller bag into the overhead.  But when I sat down, I noticed a long stream of blood running from my knuckle to the tip of my index finger.  In the battle with the overhead bin, I had been wounded.  Fortunately, I had Kleenex in my backpack and managed to eventually stop the bleeding, at least as long as I kept a tissue on the knuckle. 

 Knowing that I had a long drive back home from the airport I decided that when we landed, I would purchase some band-aids at one of the airport shops.  When I got off the plane there was a shop almost directly across from the gate.  Perfect.  I walked over, pulling my roller bag with a backpack on top.  I had a tissue on the injured hand, pressed between fingers and held as best I could with my thumb.  I quickly found the display with all sorts of personal care items, but no band aids.  

 The attendant, a small, middle-aged lady, was just finishing up with a customer.  I asked her if there were any band aids.  In Spanish-accented English, she said no and that she was sorry.  Then she noticed the tissue on my hand and asked me to wait.  She began digging around under the counter and pulled out a small first aid kit.  After searching for a moment, she pulled out a couple of band aids and asked if these would help. I responded with a grateful yes that they would be perfect. I thanked this lady for her kindness and offered to pay her something for the band aids.  She simply shook her head and said in her broken English: “You need first aid…I must do.”

 The honest sincerity of her words really touched me.  I stopped at the restroom, cleaned the wound and applied the band-aid.  And I continued to hear her words: “I must do”.  Even now days later, I still hear her voice and those words.  I had expected a cold matter-of-fact “no band-aids” response. What I received was an unexpected, simple act of kindness from a busy woman who had no reason to bother with me other than it was something she “must do.”

I have been asking myself how many “must do” situations I have walked away from over the years.  More than a few I must confess.  More often than not…I don’t do.  May God have mercy on me a sinner.

"Depart from me you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." Matthew 25: 41-43