I wrapped up a keynote speech for 200 badass women and headed to the airport to wait for my evening flight. With lots of time on my hands, I walked up and down searching for food and a friendly-looking crowd to belly up to the bar beside.
I wasn’t coming up with much so I found a spot with big windows, plenty of seating and decided natural light and a book would be an acceptable way to spend a Friday night in DC.
A nice man with kind eyes sat near me and quietly sipped his martini. With a safe exchange of smiles and good vibes he asked if I could watch his stuff while he made a trip to the restroom. Happy to.
Then a couple looking for seats came along and I happily moved over to make room. They were grateful and went about chatting about their delayed trip to Norway. That made me smile, I love traveling and they seemed so excited. Turns out it was their first air travel together. Awe. I love a good love story.
All of a sudden we’re all in a rich discussion about travel and life. Turns out they’re all on a delayed flight to Munich. Another man says, “Hey I’m on that flight too” so he joins the conversation.
We couldn’t have been more different, each of our lives lived in various parts of the world; our stories as diverse as the airport crowd. And yet, we each had rich discussions about work, education, ways to change the world, crazy bosses, therapy, and the ways of family and friends. Even our drink choices were vastly different.
And yet, there was interest and genuine curiosity about each other and our vastly different experiences and opinions. We were each being our genuine selves and having the most fun just being interested in our differences. We shared ridiculous stories about our lives and asked each other opinions on real issues of education and career.
A non-traditional engineer, a young woman leaving her job to use her entrepreneurial education as a nanny in a role she loves, the lawyer turned cryptocurrency director, the non-profit leader with a rich use of air quotes, and the best ex-boss story ever and me. Life and work can be like this; enjoyable, interesting, and educational with the most diverse group of humans. Open mind, open heart, open hands. Hey, what do you think about? Would you watch my things? Let me tell you this story. These are not hard things, they are the simple things; love, respect, and curiosity.
I woke up thinking about them. Wondering if that wonderful couple will marry someday and how much they are enjoying Norway. Wondering how absolutely fun the big Greek wedding will be and wanting to see pictures of the infinity pool. And will he go back to work for the symphony? He really lights up when he talks about it. I’ll probably never know, but I wish them all well in their journeys and am grateful that a three-hour layover was a highlight of my trip. I really wish I would have taken a cheesy airport bar selfie pic to put with this post. This is the real DE & I, it’s not a program or a checklist, it’s a story.