On our recent holiday I had the very brief pleasure of interacting with one of our cultural icons.
I mention it only because it is so nice to have a long-held idea of a public figure’s general character reinforced by their actions in “real life”. And it also gave rise to my contemplation on the idea of connection between people – and the lack of it.
Now, when I say the interaction was brief, I mean it was brief.
We traveled on the same flight to Fiji as the Japanese rugby team. They are hard to miss. Unless a large group of very big, very fit looking Japanese men is a common occurrence where you happen to live. So they were there on the business of professional rugby, while the Oh Waily extended family were there on the business of relaxation.
While Mr Oh Waily was retrieving some of our luggage from the carousel I gamely attempted to manhandle our largest piece on to a baggage trolley. Please note, I am not a 10 pound weakling, but I can also be tremendously uncoordinated and dodgy when left in control of heavy weights and movable objects. I proceeded to implement my skill at being inept and dodgy by lifting the bag is such a way as to almost knock down Miss Oh Waily with the luggage trolley. Cue the interaction.
A brief offer of help was forthcoming in the melee that is luggage retrieval at any airport around the world. An embarrassed, but self-reliant Ms Oh Waily graciously declined the offer. [At least, I hope I was gracious – that was my intent in spite of getting the surprise of my life when I saw who was offering the assistance.]
So there was my brush with fame. A few brief words exchanged over a grey Samsonite at Nadi International.
Afterwards my first thought was… there’s a nice story to tell friends. I spoke [ever so briefly] with John Kirwan. But then I thought a bit more about it. Yes, it’s a nice little story and an opportunity to do a bit of name dropping, but really it’s interesting to consider the fact that on the one hand it’s nothing more than a simple, every day kind of interaction between strangers, and on the other hand it’s an interaction that is happening less and less – never mind between a well known person to all but a few folk who live under a rock in this country, and just some person at an airport.
My inner cynic is somewhat scathing about a seeming trend of “Me, Me, Me” as long time readers (and long suffering friends) will know. The concept of awareness of others is sadly lacking in the skill sets of many people these days. I have the misfortune to see and hear this in action on a regular basis, so perhaps my view is unfairly coloured by that.
So when I thought more about that simple act of offering assistance to a stranger who would certainly have appeared to need it, it reinforced a long held positive opinion of Mr Kirwan. Even though he was on business and would have been perfectly within his rights to be focused on the people he was travelling with, he still noticed a small, clumsy woman with two kids and a large bag making a hash of a simple task.
It was a nice moment. It kicked my cynical view that the majority of people today walk around with their heads up their own backsides to the kerb.
It doesn’t take meeting a famous person to restore my faith in man’s kindness to man, but it makes a better story if it happens to include one.
So, thanks JK for having the eyes to see others around you, and the sort of heart that allows you to offer help where you see it needed. Good on you, Mate! I wish there were more like you.