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Two weeks ago I was traveling on business and, while waiting in purgatory at the local airport, I sipped coffee at Starbucks (like a yuppie, oh yea). I sat at the terminal window, on a bar-stool, voyering people unloading their luggage from the protection of tinted glass. Off to my left was a young black woman who I though was half-sleeping - except, she wasn't. It took me a few moments to realize it but she was quietly sobbing.

Perhaps what was disturbing about this was not the grief in public but rather that I had no idea what to do. Should I have attempted to comfort? Some people seem to be able to force other people to accept their help -- aggressively insisting that they be allowed share in grief and pain. But, being a rather introverted person myself and never having developed that skill, that didn't seem like a good idea. I thought about just walking away since she was clearly trying to conceal it. But, that would have made me a prick confirming whatever internal loathing of the human condition her current crisis had put her in. Damn, so complicated.

In the end, I grabbed some napkins, offered them to her and asked if there was any way I could help. She half-sobbed, Oh, no thanks, I'm just praying. I said okay and left her to her missery.

Two hours later, when my plane finally boarded, she was the TSA lady that took my boarding pass and waved me through; I don't think she even recognized me or was even thinking about crying earlier.

All around me, people stepped on to land that they had never been to before.


color, uphair, smile
Jason D. Clinton

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September 2011


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