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Archive for o’hare airport

generosity at gate b10

< by JHK >

It was 9 p.m. at O’Hare airport, gate B10. I sat in a chair with a pile of boxes.

“May I sit here?” a woman asked, gesturing to the adjacent seat. “Of course,” I said.

She wore all black, from hat to heels. Beneath her brim, she wore evidence of time. I estimate she had 75 years to her name.

“Want to split a sandwich?” she asked, unfolding a cellophane wrapper. She seemed normal enough, and I was hungry. “Sure,” I said. “That’s nice of you.”

“Well, you’re getting the half I don’t want,” she said. True to her word, she eyed each half and handed me the reject. We ate.

“So where are you headed?” I asked. “Home,” she said. “I was at a conference about women’s rights in Africa. You?”

“I’m going to visit my boyfriend.”

She nodded. “What’s with the boxes?”

“It’s his birthday,” I said. “I don’t make a lot of money, so I got him a few small gifts. I wrapped them in brown paper and drew a picture on each box, of what I’d get him if I were rich.”

She smiled as the stewardess called for boarding. We said goodbye and I lined up at the gate.

Then, a hand tapped my forearm. Standing beside me, the woman opened her wallet and withdrew everything in the cash pocket.

“Go have a nice dinner with your boyfriend.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “I can’t take thi—”

“Nonsense,” she said, closing my hand around it.

“But I don’t even know your name!”

“You don’t need to.”

When I got on the plane, I counted the cash. $100.

At 75 (or so), she spent each day advocating for justice and equality abroad. And yet, she never took her eyes off her neighbor.

A gift, wrapped in brown paper with a drawing of what I would get Nate if I could afford it. (Clay Matthews costs a pretty penny)