It was 2015 around Thanksgiving time. I was trying to get home from Chicago and routed through Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. That turned out to be a big mistake, but led to a moment I will never forget.
Recalling A Thanksgiving Blessing At New Orleans Airports
That routing idea was really a stupid idea, as the flight from Chicago ended up leaving late and I misconnected in New Orleans. Because the delay was blamed on weather and I was not 1K at the time, I was not offered a hotel voucher…or even a meal voucher until the following morning.
I was famished. My upgrade had not cleared on the Chicago – New Orleans flights and I had not eaten in many hours. But now it was closing time. Everything was closed or about to close.
In fact, the only place that still had its door open, was WOW Cafe. I walked in and was told by a little old black woman that they were closed.
I didn’t say anything and turned around to leave, but she must have seen the crestfallen look on my face, because she then said, “You’re hungry, aren’t you?”
She said, “Come here baby.”
And before I could say another word, she packed up the remaining fried chicken for me, added a couple cups of BBQ sauce, and handed it to me.
“A boy has to eat,” she said.
I pulled out my credit card and she refused, saying, “We was just going to throw these out anyway.”
And so my stomach was filled on a bench in New Orleans Airport thanks to the kindness of a total stranger who recognized I was hungry without me saying anything.
What an important lesson on so many levels. First, I was hungry, but hardly starving. Even so, she took pity on me and extended kindness for nothing in return. May we do likewise.
This appeared to be a woman in her late 60s or 70s and I felt bad that instead of retiring she was working at a fast food restaurant at an airport. But what do I know? Maybe she just loved the work. Maybe she owned the restaurant. I admired her work ethic and tenacity. In so many ways, it is more blessed to work than to sit. May we do likewise.
She had grown up in the 1940s or 1950s and had no doubt seen so much of our recent American history unfold. What a story to tell. But whatever that story was, she showed love and compassion. May we do likewise.
I’m forever touched by that small encounter at a fast food restaurant in New Orleans Airport. WOW Cafe is now permanently closed. I never even got the woman’s name. But I’m so thankful for her. And I hope that through her example you and I can pass it on.