I was walking to the United Club Lounge at the Mexico City airport before my flight.
The lounge was on the second floor through a less transited, members-only area of the airport.
On the staircase, there was a cleaning lady sitting midway eating her lunch. I’m guessing she was in her late sixties, maybe older. Thin and with a worn face of long days.
“Buenas tardes”, I said as I walked up the stairs to my privilege.
At the lounge I had a cold Modelo, guacamole, a salad, and some spring rolls. I also charged my phone to be able to listen to my 2022 top Spotify songs throughout the whole flight home on my AirPods.
On the way back to my gate, the cleaning lady was still sitting on the steps.
I looked over as I quietly passed and saw she had her eyes closed.
She looked very peaceful and still. It looked like she was asleep, even though she was sitting upright. Her lunch bag on her lap.
She opened her eyes which were soft, brown and inviting. Her white hair pulled back.
I could see she was tired. And that to survive she had to work.
We looked at each other before I stepped down the last landing and said “Buen dia, señora.”
Her “Adios, hijo”, how she said it reminded me of my dear mother.
I thought of my privilege, the privilege of many of us. As this elderly woman sweeps and mops the Mexico City airport floors, and still effortlessly gives a stranger a piece of home on his way to the gate.
I’m humbled, touched, and honored by this powerful woman I was lucky to cross paths with amidst the humanity and movement at the Mexico City airport.
To experience and embody perseverance and touch others is the true privilege in life, not an airport loung. May I be as lucky to experience what I saw in her in my life.