I Wish You a Sterling

I Wish You a Sterling
Courtesty Flickr Mlerenon

My wife and I were travelling back from Chicago to Orlando after Christmas. It had been a hard holiday, one marred by sickness — as, unfortunately, so many of us are experiencing now — leading us to spend a lot of the time there with our kids in a hotel, away from most family.

As we boarded the shuttle bus from the rental car center to the main terminals at O’Hare Airport on a getting-colder-by-the-minute, dreary morning, though, I didn’t expect Sterling.

He was the driver. And, to say he was good would be under an understatement.

First, Sterling made sure that people were clear on logistics. What terminals he’d be going to and in what order. What people should do once they arrived, etc.

He next helped with everyone’s luggage, especially those for whom lifting heavier bags would be challenging. As he did, he joked about how strong he was.

Then, just as the bus was about to depart, a man with several suitcases, and his wife in a wheelchair, frantically approached. Sterling could have just driven off. Others would have. Few would have batted an eye, wanting to make sure they made their flights. Sadly, at times, I would have been one of them.

But, instead, he patiently stopped, greeted them, and helped them on. Because she had to be at the front, the man took his suitcases and stood in the back.

With everyone on board, he next turned to all of us and said, “Good Morning!” With it being early and dreary, the response was expectedly lackluster.

So, he said it again, indicating in a good-natured way that he expected a better answer — and like obedient, but somewhat bemused students, many of us replied loudly, “Good Morning!”

He then started driving, which is when the show really began.

Over the PA, he told us how much he loved coffee for early mornings. Loves it so much that he started singing the “Folger’s Coffee” jingle (“The best part of waking up…”) and asked us to sing the second line (“… is Folger’s in your cup”). Many of us old enough to remember the jingle did.

Throughout the ride, Sterling also relayed messages back and forth between the wife at the front and her husband in the back over the PA, including how they could meet back up once we reached the terminal. All in a lighthearted way they both obviously enjoyed, as did the passengers.

Then, as we approached the first terminal, he reminded us to be kind to each other, especially considering the year we had all just experienced.

Of course, some might say he was only doing it for the tips. And, though, that was likely part of it, I could tell it was more than that. A sincere joy in spreading joy.

As we got off the bus, I thanked him.

Sadly, though, I couldn’t tip him. I had somehow not taken out any cash that morning.

So, to make up for it, I called the airport later to recognize him.

That’s it.

Another simple moment that was anything but.

So, I wish you all a Sterling today.

And I hope I can remember to be more like him.

Especially when it’s hard to do so.            

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Contact me at james@jameswarda.com and learn more at jameswarda.com.

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