Paying It Forward Across the Country

I love how traveling always brings adventure. Even a trip to the grocery store can be an adventure. But bigger adventures usually come with bigger trips.

Take last weekend, for example.

I was headed out on a train from Baltimore to New York. I ran into so many friendly people. And these were just your average, everyday, ordinary friendly people. But those people are becoming more and more rare so they’re not that average anymore.

And then I shared the most interesting rides with cab drivers in NYC. I met so many people and heard so many stories, both big and small, that it reminded me to keep my eyes and ears open. As bloggers, we’re writers but we’re really storytellers. We’re hear to share the everyday experiences that weave the fabric of humankind.

Sometimes, it’s sharing a story about how you were up for an hour in the middle of the night with your son who coughed so much and for so long that he threw up. Several times. You tell the story because people can relate and understand and reassure.

(This, by the way, was actually how I spent the past few nights. Poor kid.)

Sometimes, the stories are BIG stories. Like this trip I’m headed on right now. As part of the TWIN experience, Toyota is sending about 25 bloggers on an adventure. The goal is to have fun and find the adventure in Toyota.

We’re going glamping (glamorous camping – an oxymoron, I realize). We’ll experience some fine dining and a drive up the coast with a little back-to-nature (luxury style, I’m hoping). I’ll be kayaking in the ocean and exploring Santa Barbara. And as long as no Great White Sharks come along, the end result is sure to be a few good stories (with video!).

But my favorite stories to tell are the everyday stories. The stories that start with an extremely rushed and stressful morning of travel preparations only to have it all come together the way it was meant to be.

As I mentioned, last night was another night of disrupted sleep. My son is five and half and I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep in five and half years. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean.

But I set my alarm early enough to have a relaxing bath, enjoy breakfast with my family, finish any last minute packing, and head out in plenty of time for my 11:15 am flight.

The bath was relaxing but I probably spent too long in the tub. It’s a garden tub with jets. I just can’t help myself. I threw my last minute laundry in the dryer and frantically threw too many clothes and shoes into my suitcase.

My darling husband, knowing and sensing my pre-travel stress, brought me up a cup of tea and told me to just focus on getting ready. But I meandered to the kitchen to visit the dogs. Have a bowl of cereal. Figure out my airport parking options. Print a coupon. And then my tummy hurt.

I have a nervous tummy and it delayed my departure. I left the house about 30 minutes after I planned to. Because of course that wouldn’t add to the stress at all.

I told myself not to worry about it. I would just get there when I got there. There was nothing I could do about it at this point.

But I worried. And I sped. And finally made it to the Preflight Parking and caught the shuttle to the airport.

OH NO! A shuttle!

I have to admit, though, Rich, my shuttle driver, was one awesome dude. I told him I was running late and he got clearance to take me straight to the terminal. He told me what I needed to do, where I needed to go, the quickest way to check my bag, and the super secret security line on the lower floor. And he asked me all about my trip which was a really nice distraction.

I got to the airport and headed straight to the skycap BUT…

I famously had no cash on me. I had given my last dollar to Rich for being so helpful. And now, I was worried that my bag would end up where all untipped skycaps send bags. Into oblivion.

After my bag was tagged, I apologized profusely and told the skycap I had NO MONEY for tip. And in my panic, I found a Starbucks giftcard in my wallet and handed it to him explaining it was all I had. He laughed, almost in disbelief and thanked me for my card.

(In reality, I’m worried that this was one of those 50-cents-left-on-the-card kind of giftcards that I shoved in my wallet. I guess we’ll never know. Unless my bag goes to Provo instead of LAX).

Bag checked, off to security. I still had 25 minutes. I was going to pull this off after all!

I went to the super secret security line but it wasn’t nearly as short as I was hoping. I checked my flight status.


I panicked again (a recurring theme). I whined about my dilemma to the woman in front of me who said I should simply ask if I could cut in line.

Are you sure I should? I feel really bad.

“You wanna catch your flight, don’t you?”

So I asked a guy in the next row over if I could possibly cut in front of him. He gave me a subtle, knowing smile and waved me on. I thanked him profusely and said a phantom thank you to the 50 people behind him that had also unknowingly let me cut in line. And then the guy in front of him let me go ahead. I promised I was a pro at the screeners and would be quickly through security.

Off I ran and boarded in time to get one of the last few aisle seats. FULL FLIGHT.

At least I would have room to stretch my aging knees.

And then I had my moment. An older woman boarded with her husband. They had to split up and she apologized for making me get up but asked if she could sit in the middle seat.

In a moment, I made a decision. It was my turn to pay the kindness forward. So I gathered my things, sat in the middle, and told her to please enjoy the aisle seat.

She was thankful and friendly and I told her that so many people had been kind to me that I simply wanted to repay it a little.

And then she pulled out two complimentary drink tickets for Southwest. She offered them to me saying her daughter gives them to her and she doesn’t drink and would simply throw them away.

I graciously took the tickets. One for my flight out and one for my return trip.

And I sipped my cranberry and vodka thinking about how funny life can be when you stop to show a little kindness.


  • Erin Margolin

    I love you, Fadra. And I love this anecdote.Have a wonderful trip and you pay it forward all the time without even realizing, you know.

    • FadraN

      Your compliments always embarrass me. But I won’t let that happen. I’ll just say thank you :)

  • Tracy Morrison

    Oh I so love this, and you, my friend. xo

    • FadraN

      Thanks, beautiful :)

  • Mandi McClure

    I love this. And the cab driver stories! Those were awesome as well.

    • FadraN

      Sometimes, life hands you stories :)

  • Brittany at Mommy Words

    Fadra this is beautiful. This is the stuff I tell my kids and they are actually doing it! Kindness is so simple yet so easy to forget. Love this story and you just know I love you!

    • FadraN

      Thanks, Brittany. It was the perfect start to the trip. I wish the return trip has been as good!

  • Jill Krause

    Love this!

  • Melissa

    I LOVE this. It’s like that insurance commercial where one person does something nice and then it continues and continues. Glad to see real life can be like that too sometimes.

    • FadraN

      I promise not every day is like this but you have to look for the good stuff and acknowledge it when it happens!