A few weeks ago, I was in the airport with my girl, headed back to Ibadan. It was a typical rush, rush, rush morning.
Grab the bags, trudge through traffic, hunt for a parking space, follow the herd, wade through security, dash to the gate.
I noticed that people aren’t usually very friendly in airports.
Eyes look straight ahead. Purposed feet slap the floor. Overstuffed bags roll behind.
It’s not that people are grumpy. They’re just in a hurry.
On this particular morning, I looked just like everyone else. In a hurry.
I soon realized I was in a hurry for nothing. Flight was postponed for more than four hours. Before settling in at my gate and attaching myself to my Kindle, I decided to make one last trip to the restroom. I’m so glad I did. It was one of the most joy-filled places I had been in a long time.
Ekaite was the official attendant on duty.
With a spray bottle of disinfectant in one hand and a mop in the other, Ekaite welcomed each “guest” into her “home.”
A woman in a royal blue jacket exited a stall and Ekaite swooped in behind her to get it ready for the next user.
Wipe, wipe, wipe with her mop.
“Right this way, ma,” she motioned to the person next in line, “This one is ready for you! Come right in!”
With all the poise of a Valet opening the castle doors for a person of honor, Ekaite welcomed each woman as if she were the most important person in her day.
I stood back and watched as this bundle of joy wiped off toilet seats and floors and cheerfully invited her next guest into the pristine stalls.
Ekaite had an effervescent sense of joy…cleaning toilets. It seemed to come from a deep-seated heart of gratitude.
And it spilled over to every single woman who left her restroom.
Women entered weary and worn and left with a skip in their step and a smile on their face. Some even lingered…as if they wanted to soak in just a little bit more before facing the world.
On the counter rested a bag where she kept tips.
But I don’t think the “tips” were for wiping the germs away from the toilet floors, but for wiping the depression away from their hearts (even if just for a moment).
And for some strange reason, I just wanted to give Ekaite a hug.
She didn’t mind.
Ekaite reminded me just how contagious gratitude and joy can be. And how desperately I want to be a carrier.