When you fly all over the world, some of the faces at the airport start to become familiar. Adrian worked for TSA at the San Diego International Airport for decades. Amidst the milieu of businessmen, tourists, and vacationers who are far more likely to be anxious, impatient, and rude than polite and upbeat, he stood out. What made him remarkable was the fact that he was not desperately trying to be seen as remarkable—or even to be seen. He had a humble, kind disposition, and was clearly content to show love to each person whose ID and ticket he verified. Whether the passengers were disgruntled or easy-going, Adrian met each person with a smile.
The author decided to let Adrian know that he had appreciated Adrian’s humble kindness and that it reminded him a lot of the way that Jesus loved. Adrian’s eyes welled up and he got up and gave the author a hug. Thus began a friendship that would last for years. It grew just three minutes at a time, each time the author had a flight out of San Diego. With each exchange, they learned something more about each other’s family and life. They began to get meals or coffee together, talking about life’s challenges and faith. Eventually, their families would meet for special occasions and Christmases.
Adrian’s wife called the author recently, informing him that Adrian had died of a stroke in the airport parking lot. It was a deep loss. Adrian left behind family, dear friends, and a legacy of becoming love. Adrian didn’t engage in social media, which can offer the enticing opportunity to project an image of who we’d like to be and how we’d like to be seen. Adrian quietly loved his family and God and the next person in line.
Sometimes we put so much pressure on making friends. It’s an all-or-nothing. But friendships don’t happen all at once; they can be built with small, intentional increments of meaningful conversation.