A Moment of Kindness

This appeared in Two Minutes, the August 2016 Anthology by The Great Falls Writer’s Group, Great Falls, Virginia

On a blustery Tuesday in November, Janet and I arrived at Dulles Airport just after noon. We were mentally prepared for what awaited us: an eighteen-hour journey to Auckland, New Zealand. When we arrived at our destination at seven in the morning on Thursday, we were strung out, tired, and disoriented. The spring weather in New Zealand can be mercurial, but we thought it would be warmer than Great Falls, so we buried our coats and jackets deep in our luggage to use later hiking in the North Island’s central mountains.

We called our rental car agent and were told to wait outside the terminal for pickup. When the airport’s glass doors opened, we were hit by a stiff blast of frigid air and drizzle, leaving us uncovered and exposed to the elements. There we waited and waited, our arms wrapped tightly around ourselves, trying to keep warm and dry.

I was just about to start digging through the luggage when a Maori woman who had just walked by turned around and approached us. Without a second’s hesitation, she took off her brown, knee-length coat and handed it to Janet. She said, as if apologizing, “This isn’t the best coat, but you can have it.” She then walked away without waiting for thanks. Now she was coatless, exposed to the raw wind and rain.

We were so stunned by this act of kindness that we couldn’t utter the proper words of appreciation. The exchange took less than two minutes, but it is a memory that will last a lifetime.