I returned home late last night from Chicago. It was a good trip. Not as good as I hoped because my time out and about in the city was limited to, well, just about none at all. But I did the work, connected with a few colleagues, made new business connections, experienced smooth flights and safe travel. Really, no complaints.
Except that this morning I feel so weary. It’s that ache-all-over feeling. It might be created, in part, by sleeping in anything but my own Tempur-Pedic bed for too many nights. Or multiple hours in those crazy uncomfortable plane seats. Or hauling a bag full of geek gear along for the ride. But mostly, I think, it is the result of remaining in a high-alert defensive mode as I traverse some part of this big ol’ world alone.
So I was really thankful for this guy at the airport restaurant looking for business. He crashed through the line at Chili’s asking for, “Singles? Follow me! Plenty of room here for you and your laptop!” I happily jumped the line to follow the pied piper. It was a bit of a disappointment to be led to the bar but he was right, there was plenty of room. He said the hostesses didn’t appreciate his interventions but there was nothing they could do about it and, “I gotta’ make a living, too!”
From my little perch I watched him work. Every few minutes, when the line got long, he’d go back looking for more business. Most of the time, he brought someone back with him. He’d warm up to every customer in a way that made him or her feel they belonged and, as a result, kept the place humming. I felt myself relaxing a bit, letting down my guard, enjoying the chit-chat and banter as he engaged his clients with even-handed expertise. When I departed, I left a nice tip. He’d earned it.
As I thought about this brief interlude in my day, I was reminded why it always feels so good to come home. No matter where I travel, I look forward to returning to where I feel safe. Where I am loved. Where I belong.
Everyone should be so lucky.