by Terry L. Sumerlin
As we sat and sat on the runway of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, waiting for our turn to take off, I stared out the window. The two hours it would take to get from Miami International Airport to the port where I would board the ship were shrinking at a maddening pace. I kept thinking of how much easier it would be to catch the cruise ship before it left the dock.
The dignified, middle-aged lady sitting next to me was even more stressed than I was. When I politely asked as just a matter of greeting, “How are you?,” her answer clearly indicated that she was not having a red-letter day. She looked like someone who’d just gotten bad news from the parole officer and just wanted to be left alone. So, we sat in silence.
When we were finally in the air (with time to spare for me to get to the port) we both began to relax. As we engaged in small talk, the lady told me that she was employed by the state of Louisiana, traveled abroad extensively, was fluent in French and at one time taught English in Europe. She was a fascinating conversationalist!
When she asked what I do I told her that I’m a conference speaker and was taking a cruise out of Miami to speak aboard ship. She seemed pleased and for well over an hour we talked, laughed, shared stories and had a pleasant time. In no time at all we landed.
Just before landing, she remarked that she felt much better than she did when we boarded. I did too!
She got off the plane about five minutes before I did. I got off and immediately began looking for my daughter who was to accompany me on the cruise. To my surprise, just inside the terminal was my one-time distant and previously stressed friend, apparently waiting for me. She said that she just wanted to tell me to have a great cruise.
Dickens said: “No one is useless in this world who lightens burdens of another.” That day my new friend was wearied by the circumstances of the day. She felt burdened. In conversation I tried to make myself useful. Perhaps I helped. For certain I helped myself.
TERRY’S LEADERSHIP: To ease your own stress simply focus on helping someone with their burden.