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Meeting new people on travels is good for the soul
I don’t know why I am always surprised to meet great people throughout this world. They seem to pop up at every turn and thankfully deflate my quick, stereotypical judgments.

Last week on my trek west, south and back north, I had the opportunity to encounter several people from all walks of life. The security guard who vowed to get me on my flight to Los Angeles had no obligation to make sure a forgetful 47-year-old mother of four made her plane on time … but she did.

Or the kind stranger in a busy Atlanta airport who guarded my phone as it charged while I used the restroom and, even though her plane was boarding for Wichita, stayed until I came back.
Or the sweet shuttle bus driver who drove me to my rental car at 1:30 a.m. in downtown L.A. and assured me I would be safe because God was before me, after me and all around me.
Or the cook at Denny’s in Valencia, Calif., who made an awesome omelet for me at 2:30 a.m., after a long trek of flying and eating nothing but a small bag of pretzels and a Coke.

Then there was the volunteer crew at World Ag Expo in Tulare who welcomed me to the biggest farm show in the world. And “Tiny,” who took me on a golf cart and explained how every piece of foreign farm equipment worked and answered all my silly questions. When he finished with me, he hauled the governor of South Dakota around the grounds, but made me feel just as welcome as any VIP.

Probably one of the highlights of kindness was the “American Idol” contestant I met in the L.A. airport on my way home. There were a group of them sitting around waiting to fly out, talking about their experiences, and I just happened to recognize them.

As I watched them interact, I realized these were just a bunch of homesick teenagers. I asked if I could snap a picture and, although I’m not sure they were allowed to do that, they obliged me and I have a great souvenir.

I mentioned I would put their picture in one of my blogs and one of the boys began asking questions about it. I explained I live on a farm and he said, “I’ve always wanted to milk a cow.” I assured him he could milk one of my cows any time he wanted.

We visited a little more about his experience on “American Idol” and then I decided I had asked enough questions and would leave him alone.

About an hour later, they all got up to leave, and he came over to me and said, “It was nice meeting you, see you later.” I told him to have a safe flight and we said our goodbyes. Fame had not yet tarnished this sweet, young, talented Chicagoan.

The world gets smaller and smaller every day. And if you experience it yourself, instead of through some form of media, you’ll find it’s full of great folks who may look different – but are just as kind as any hometown folk that sip coffee at the local café across the rural routes of this great nation.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Those with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.