Bleary eyed from a flight at the crack of dawn, my body was fighting to sleep and my mind was pushing me to stay alert. I was in for a long day of sitting in one of Moscow’s many airports – waiting for a team to arrive from a church back home. This was the 2nd summer team I was responsible for in Russia that summer. This was the year before I moved there, so I was not yet a Russian-speaker and the culture was confounding. Here is an example….
Sitting in one of the precious few chairs in the airport, I was attempting to read a book. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that seemed, well, “not right.” Sure enough, there was an elderly gentleman in a sports coat lying on his back on the marble floor. He was unconscious. The cleaning woman manning the zamboni-like floor cleaner was cutting a precise line around his body.
What should I do? Did he need CPR? Was someone going to get help? Was he alive? Then, a woman with a brisk, purposeful step started across the lobby. She was wearing a white, medical coat, high heels and a tall, white hat. In her hand she held a syringe with a long, scary needle pointing skyward. She was on a mission.
There was an internal war going on in the pit of my stomach. Relieved that someone was attending to the unconscious man, I wanted to take a deep breath and relax. My mind started whirring with questions that prevented me from exhaling. What was in the syringe? Where did she come from? How did she know what would help him? Why was she leaving him on the floor of the airport? Uh oh. It got worse.
She turned on her heel and walked back to whatever corner of the airport from which she emerged with the same urgency and purpose to her step. I had a whole new set of questions: Where did she go? What about the man? Was he alive? Would someone get a gurney?! My heart was racing. I was on the verge of panic. But then, I caught a whiff of citrus. Before I could figure out where the smell was coming from, I heard a voice, “Want some grapefruit?”