Could I Get A Ride With You?
I gave blood back in December during my school’s blood drive. Each year, I try to participate in the drive, and each year I dislike the needles more and more. I’m such a wimp, but I know it is a good and right thing to do. As I lay there looking away from the needle hanging out of my vein, my mind began to wander off, hoping that my blood would help to save someone. Hoping that my blood and its components would be helpful to another human being.
Shouldn’t that be one of the ends of all of our goals? Helping others? Especially now during this time, it is imperative that we do so. That’s the reason every year I sign up to participate in this task that I don’t really enjoy or look forward to, but I know it is good for others. As my mind was wandering again, and I closed my eyes, I remembered back to the funny story of a total stranger who helped me one time. I laugh when I think back to the story from 25 years ago and how helpful and kind these people were. Here it is:
Back in 1995, I was a sophomore at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. A good friend of mine was one of the head managers of the Notre Dame football team and invited me to come out and enjoy the festivities of a weekend football game at Notre Dame. I’d never been but certainly was aware of the wonders of the golden helmets and all that came with it. We had a blast.
I had an inside view of a game day Saturday at a Notre Dame football game. I hit the sign (Play like a Champion), I ran out onto the field with the team, I helped paint the helmets on Friday night. I got footballs for players when they needed it and did whatever a manager filling in with his buddy could do. It was the experience of a lifetime and I have been a Notre Dame fan ever since. Every weekend, when I hear that famous Notre Dame fight song, I think back to the several amazing trips I had there. For this story, I’ll focus on the ride home from the first trip in ‘95.
It was Sunday night after an amazing football weekend. I have five dollars in my pocket and I’m getting on a plane from Indianapolis to Greensboro. As I am standing in line to board the plane, there is an announcement that the flight is canceled. I watch the panic and confusion as people begin darting in different places, cursing and yelling and sharing different levels of frustration. I gripped my five bucks a little tighter.
I began to look around at the benches. If needed, I intended to sleep in the airport. I saw a number of people going over to another nearby counter and heard them talking about taking another flight. There was another flight going to Raleigh, North Carolina. Being from Staten Island, New York, I wasn’t really sure how far Raleigh was from Greensboro, but I knew it was within driving distance, maybe a couple of hours. People got on line, so I did the same and then went ahead and just got on the plane to Raleigh.
You have to remember, these were days before debit cards and cell phones so I really wasn’t sure how I was going to get to Greensboro. I did notice a nice couple a few spots in front of me (who both were on the first line of the flight that was canceled) and I was attentive to watch where they sat on the plane.
Once the flight took off, and we were able to unbuckle our seatbelts, get up, and move around I walked up to them and introduced myself. I told them the scenario. I still can remember the man’s chuckle when I told him I had five dollars in my pocket, but I asked if I could hitch a ride with them to Greensboro. They looked at one another and smiled. They said, “we have a child in college as well and if they were stuck we would hope that somebody would help them, so we’d be happy to take you.” They told me they lived right around the corner from Guilford College, so it all worked out.
The flight landed, we grabbed the rental car, I jumped in the backseat and off we went. They bought me dinner and really inquired about my time at Guilford and in North Carolina. They could tell very quickly from my accent I was from New York. They were so kind and compassionate. Not only did they wind up driving me home, but they invited my buddies and me over for a local barbecue at their home a couple of weeks later, just because. They wanted to do something nice for some college kids, so we over-ate, certainly over drank, and enjoyed their company and kindness.
This is a feel-good story and I love sharing it. To talk about someone’s open kindness to a stranger is heart-warming. So whether it is helping out a college kid at the airport, donating blood, or whatever opportunity there is to help your fellow human being, I say go for it. We all have been shown countless examples of kindness. We have also been burned and hurt many times and I’m certainly wary of putting strangers in my car as they did for me. We know it is important to protect yourself and your family but I urge you to seek opportunities of kindness. Especially the ones where you can’t be repaid and maybe for someone you might never see again.
By the time this blog publishes, I hope my blood has moved on to help someone. Let’s continue to do so for our fellow men and women. Now more than ever, these tokens of kindness are needed. #ThePowerOfASingleExperience. #SurviveThrive
I thank the student council leadership and student leaders from Port Jervis High School for their annual support of the New York Blood Drive.
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#LeadershipSparks: The Candle Story
Quote: “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”
— Whoopi Goldberg, comedian