On a journey into the airport on Feb 11, I ran across a young military guy. We started to visit and I learned he had just returned home from Afghanistan and was on his way to see his mom in Philly. He had trouble getting his itinerary correct overseas, so had been working it for 3 days to make it to ATL. He stopped to take a call from his “Aunt Kathy” so I heard him explain all the crazy things that had happened recently, but said he was excited to see his mom and would be there that night. When he got off the phone I asked Dever (name on his shirt) how old he was. He proudly said I am 20 years old. I told him about my nieces and nephews close to his age and how cool I thought they were and how lucky I was to have so much fun on adventures with them! He told me he was a communications specialist which meant he had to make sure wherever his team was, they had access to communication devices. Not an easy task in the dessert and small villages over ‘there’.
Dever said “thanks for being so nice to me, most people are afraid to talk to us when we are in uniform in the airport.” I asked him to watch my phone which was plugged in getting a charge while I grabbed a biscuit and tea. “Yes ma’am, I will guard it for you!” When I came back, I told him ‘safe travels’ and thanks for serving our country at such a young age. He replied “My pleasure ma’am.”
As I was walking off, I just knew this was my opportunity once again, to pay it forward. I was so mad at myself because I had not gone to the bank the day before to get cash. But I knew there was a reason for that. I walked slowly trying to think about something to do and came to the candy store where there were RED HEARTS galore for Valentines Day! Oh, now I know why – I need to buy an amazing red basket of candy for Dever to take to his mom upon arrival to her doorstep! Quickly I grabbed the Valentine Basket and rushed back to where Dever and I had shared breakfast (his was pizza by the way!). He was gone. But, I knew he was going to Philly so I ran to the Departure Kiosk and looked up Philly to see which gate he was leaving from. Heading the opposite way of my gate I hustled – and saw him at the American Express sign up booth in the airport. I walked right up and said “Mr Dever – this is a gift for your mom – just a random act of kindness to say THANK YOU for serving our country and enjoy your visit with your mom.” He smiled so BIG and looked so shocked — everyone at the American Express kiosk started clapping and whooping it up~! He nodded and said, “Thanks ma’am, she will love it.”
As I walked to my gate, heading home to see my own mom in Oklahoma, I realized that his mom would be crying the minute he walked in the door with a white bag, pink paper and a RED HEART candy basket tucked inside – saying “Hey mom, I am home – Happy Valentines Day!” Love the visual I on that one!