There were hustling people everywhere, running from gate to gate, from hallway to train, up escalators and down. Atlanta’s Hartsfield is the busiest airport in the world. I began to trek through it after disembarking from the gate where I deplaned. That’s when I checked the time to see how hard I had to swim to join the other salmon surging upstream.
Once in the stream, swimming along, I felt a sense of calm. It wasn’t that it was less crowded. It wasn’t. Perhaps it was because going with the flow is always easier than working to merge, and most certainly, easier than trying to swim against the flow of seemingly spawning fish. I swam down the escalator rapids and then entered the fish trap in the form of a train to transfer to a terminal five stops away. “Swoosh,” the doors closed and I was off. Then the door opened again and I swam up another escalator of rapids to join a different stream.
That’s when things changed. I had just risen to the top of the escalator and had walked, perhaps 30 feet, when I heard someone trying to get my attention. It was a little startling. Everyone else was ignoring me as they just swam along.
“Excuse me,” rhe stranger said. “Is this yours?”
I turned to look. He, the stranger, was gasping while reaching toward me with my driver’s license in his hand. It had apparently fallen from my pocket as I removed my phone to check the 28 messages that had accumulated during my flight.
“Thank you!” I replied, with heartfelt thanks.
He smiled and swam back into the stream, likely to never be seen by my eyes again. I turned and swam the other way with the stream feeling somewhat warmer — thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.