This morning, as is often the case, I found myself walking through an airport. It just so happened that I was in Washington Reagan Airport but it could have been any airport. There was nothing too interesting about the morning other than the fact the it was more crowded than a normal Tuesday, as people were already setting off to wherever they would be spending Christmas.
As I was standing on the up escalator, heading to the gates, I happened to notice a young girl, perhaps 5 or 6 walking around the baggage claim area. I quickly realized that she was not with an adult. I also noticed that tears were welling up in her eyes.
Recognizing that baggage claim and ultimately the exit is not a safe place for a small child to be on her own, I immediately jumped over the up escalator to the down escalator, luggage in hand, (I don’t recommend this for anyone over 50 and it didn’t look nearly as cool as it sounds I’m sure), much to the dismay of those who were standing on the down escalator. I must apologize to the person I slightly hit with my luggage but I had a higher calling at that point than apologizing for being rude. I was literally down the escalator in seconds and next to the little, very adorable child who was now crying and who had a look of terror in her eyes.
Although she of course didn’t realize it, she was now safe. Just as I was asking her what her name was and where her mommy might be, a number of other people also realized what was happening and ran over. She now had a half-dozen protectors. One person was able to quickly find a police officer while the rest of us waited with her. No sooner did the police officer arrive than a frantic mother come running out of the elevator. Apparently, the little girl was separated from her mother as they were taking the elevator to the departure level. She must have walked out as the doors were closing, not realizing the consequences. The story had a happy ending which is all the matters.
It’s important to note that in these cynical times, there are still some decent people in the world. Despite having to catch flights, the greater good was obviously the safety of the child. That’s the best of humanity and forced me to contemplate that if everyone looked out for each other, every day, rather than considering their fellow citizens bothersome and a hindrance, this country and the world would be a far better place.