The baggage arrivals area of Toronto Pearson airport was silent. One hundred and twenty tired passengers were waiting for the conveyor belt to spirit into life so their journey could continue.
Thirty minutes ticked by.
My mind drifted.
Hours earlier, I had been taking my upgraded seat on the plane when I noticed a well-dressed businessman sporting a colourful plastic bracelet on his wrist. It clashed wonderfully with his boardroom style. I reasoned this little memento had significant value to him.
A stewardess spotted the natty jewellery too.
“How nice!” she said, with a perfect mix of personality and politeness.
“Thank you..!” said the businessman, warmly, adding “My daughter made this for me and I promised I wouldn’t take it off my whole trip”
I listened to this exchange and smiled, shuffling to my seat for a nice nap.
That was eleven hours ago.
The baggage carousel was still dead. It’s familiar whirr now supplanted by a steady stream of complaint from the same businessman who I had seen on the plane earlier. His cheerful demeanour was gone. He was furious – venting his dissatisfaction in the direction of whoever might listen.
“UN-BEE-LIEVEABLE!” he exclaimed, pacing across the foyer.
For good measure, he repeated himself again “UN-BEE-LIEVEABLE!” With every passing second he seemed to grow more irate.
Perhaps he just wanted to be heard. It gave me butterflies, but I decided to talk to approach him. I figured I couldn’t make him any more angry.
“Hey! I will pay you $1,000 for that colourful bracelet on your wrist.”
Without a pause, he happily snapped:
“No chance! My daughter made it for me.”
“Yes, I know!” I replied.
“And now, when you get home, you can tell your daughter that a man at the airport offered you a thousand dollars for it – and you flat out refused!”
Well, that changed his mood.
His focus shifted from the current problem to the realisation that he now had a better story to tell his family. A warm smile broke out on his face and he thanked me. His grin reminded me that it’s good to take risks.
Compassion takes courage. It requires you to step up, shoo away your butterflies and live at your edge. Every act of compassion is one of bravery, whether well received or not.
That thought cheered me up too.
The baggage eventually arrived. Yet now that I think about it, perhaps we both left a little behind.