Tonight, at the airport’s immigration and customs check, I was chatting casually with the girl working my counter. When my passport scanned, and my picture appeared on the screen, she commented that I had had short hair back then, and, after a comment from me, she asked about the reasoning behind the short hair.
I told her that I had shaved it as part of a fundraiser for pediatric cancer, and we both marveled at the idea of having no hair at all. She asked about people’s reactions to it, and I shared of the regular misconceptions people had – first, when it was very short, that I had cancer, then, as it grew longer a bit, that I was either making a political statement or was a homosexual or gender fluid individual. At her request, I told of the oddities that come with growing one’s hair long again, after having it be short for so long (it takes a long while to grow out long hair from a bald scalp), and how I regularly am surprised still today when my hair whacks a guy in the face while dancing, or gets stuck as I roll up the window in the car.
She told me of a time that she had complimented a woman’s hair style, which happened to be quite short but super flattering on the woman. The woman had replied that she had only just recently been free of her cancer, and so this was her first hair growing back in, and she was utterly flattered and touched at the simple compliment from this sweet immigration and customs worker, who, in turn, complimented me on my fundraising efforts, my confidence, and my general desire to do good in the works.
As we parted, I had tears in my eyes. I think that might be the best airport staff conversation I’ve ever had and ever will have.