Last night I drove home from the Cincinnati Airport…not once, but twice…once at 8:00pm and a second time at 10:30pm. Here’s what happened.
It had been a stressful trip. I had been in Boston less than 24 hours, caring for my Mom (post 2 strokes), when I got a call from the kennel saying it looked like Maggie, my 14 year old dog, had had a stroke during the night. Her head was tilted, she could not stand up or walk without collapsing. They were on their way with her to her vet. (She’s improving, thank god!)
On the way home from the airport I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some eggs, fresh fruit, and vegetables. I knew my frig was empty and re-entry from these trips can be tough. For me, food shopping on the way home from the airport sets my intention to eat healthfully that night, the next day, and beyond. When I walked into my house there were two phone messages waiting for me; one from the Airport Police and another from a woman I did not yet know. Both calls were about the same thing. I had walked off the airport long term parking shuttle with someone else’s suitcase, leaving mine on the bus. The Airport Police were summoned. This poor woman whose bag I “stole” had to fill out a police report, and the police kept my suitcase.
Here’s where my night turned around; into something very special. Jennifer, the woman whose bag I took, was absolutely lovely about the whole thing. I felt horrible about how inconvenienced she had been by my spaciness. But SHE actually felt badly that I had to drive all the way back to the airport to get my bag. She tried unsuccessfully to get the police to let her take my bag with her, for an exchange, to save me a trip all the way back to Kentucky (the Cincinnati, Ohio, airport is actually over the river in Kentucky).
Jennifer and I met at a Wendy’s parking lot halfway between our homes and I gave her her bag. We talked. By way of explanation, I told her about my trip; about my Mom and my dog. She said she understood. She really understood! She shared that she had just taken in her 95 year old great aunt who has dementia. She had tears in her eyes as she wished my dog a full recovery. We hugged. It was just one of those times when an interaction with a perfect stranger, under less than ideal circumstances, restores your faith in humankind. Had I taken someone else’s suitcase, the night might have turned out very differently.
I headed back to the airport with a smile on my face, instead of a head full of self-recrimination. I felt gratitude. And I thought, “it’s a beautiful night for a drive”. Even the Airport Police made me laugh about my blunder. When the officer handed me my suitcase he smiled and said, ” This had NEVER, EVER happened before”, and winked.
There was a time not so long ago when I would have kicked myself all the way to the airport and back for making a “stupid” mistake. As an emotional eater, I would have binged on my way home and I would have missed out totally on being present for the presents I received last night.
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, firstname.lastname@example.org