I was recently traveling during bad weather that had caused cancellations of many flights. I was sitting by the gate, having already changed my ticket and was watching the unfortunate airline rep at the gate counter. She was being bombarded by people who seemed to assume that the poor weather and flight cancellations were her fault. Each one in turn laid all of their grief on her and I could see she was being pushed to the brink…

A little ah-ha light bulb flashed in my mind and since I am apt to follow my instinct, I stood up and took my place in the line of ornery people intent on sharing their bad day with her.

I patiently waited my turn and when I was finally standing in front of her, her weary eyes looked up to me, her forehead creased with stress and she asked “May I help you, sir?” I said “Yes you can”.

I then suggested that she act busy while I spoke to her. I told her I stood in line to give her a 5 minute break. While she typed (I have no idea what she typed), I explained to her that while all of these people were intent on ruining her day, the fact that she had other people in her life that really cared about her and that she had passions in her life that gave her life meaning was far more important than what was happening here today. In circumspect, what was happening here wasn’t important and shouldn’t stress her out.

We chatted back and forth for a few minutes as she continued to look busy. After seeing her regain her composure, I knew she had to get back to her work and I wished her a great day, telling her it was time for the next customer.

She looked up at me and I could see that her eyes were slightly welling up. “Thank you so much”, she said, “I don’t know how to thank you for this”. I smiled and told her the best way to thank me was to pass on the kindness to someone else when she had the chance.

If you ever find yourself faced with a similar opportunity to give someone a break and a minute to recharge, you might think of this story. Take care and be well. Harry


  1. Giving a Break….
    Harry, that’s a wonderful story and such a beautiful and considerate gesture on your part. I love the idea of passing a favor on. I often suggest that to those who ask me for things they expect to return. Thank you so much for the suggestion.

  2. Giving a Break to Hassled Customer Service People
    This is fabulous!! Thanks for sharing a brilliiant way to connect with a stranger and perk up the day. I always make it a point to be gracious and friendly to service people, and often they respond so appreciatively because of the other people who have been rude to them in the day. We each CAN make a difference!

  3. Hi there,

    Thank you both for your kind comments – apologies for the delay in response.

    I think the key to this type of thing is courage to just do it, regardless of what you think anyone else might think of it. Once you start doing it, you get addicted to the great feeling that comes from doing something for others and you want to do it again … and again .. and agan. 🙂 Of course, if you do it again and again in the same lineup, you will deservedly get some strange looks. 🙂

    Take care and be well.


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