Elul 4 5776
Dear Mr. Baggage Handler,
I left for the airport today with a driver named Tom. The Delta crew welcomed me at check-in: Diana and Rachel and Louis, each with a first name on their tag, just like the TSA folks and the flight attendants, and Captain Darcy, welcoming passengers on board the plane. But I watched you from my window seat loading luggage on the plane, with no name tag, no eye contact with those who bags you carry, like me, and I want to thank you for making it possible for me to sit here trusting that my stuff will get to London on the wings of air and people’s labors, seen and unseen.
I don’t want this to sound patronizing. We all do jobs and live lives that sometimes go invisible, unthanked. Some more than others. We do or don’t learn how to deal and heal.
How many times a day am I helped, served, fed and championed by the hands and minds of people whom I’ll never know or thank?
How many of those faces do I see all the time but do not pause to ask their names, to introduce myself, ask who or how they are? Yes I say hello, howareyou, thankyouverymuch, and try to smile when I remember, polite and friendly in that NYC way, but, still, so many on a daily basis are nameless and that doesn’t feel alright. I know I’m privileged in so many ways. It requires that I try a little harder, this day, this coming year, to honor others, see them as I would love to be see, thanked, loved.
Thank you stranger working hard at JFK for your diligent work, and for reminding me on this 4th day of a journey to more honest, happy living in the year ahead that we can be more human, connected, more present and sensitive to each other, to whomever comes our way: Less part of the problem, more part of the solution.
Amichai (the guy who waved to you from seat 25F and seemed a little crazy)
PREPENT: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s annual journey to the new year, with 40 ways in 40 days to reflect, refocus, recharge and restart life. This year features daily love letters inspired by Lab/Shul’s theme for the High Holy Days, “וְאָהַבְתָּ re:love.”
This story "Prepent Day 4: My Unsung Airport Hero" was written by Amichai Lau-Lavie.