Day 1: Paying It Forward to L.A.

I met a young man on the plane. “This is my first time flying,” he told me.
“Ever?” I asked.
“Ever,” he confirmed
We continued to talk and I discovered he was very nervous and that this was the first time he was leaving the state of Illinois other than a road trip to Wisconsin. He was on his way to Arizona to live with an aunt and start a new life at twenty-three.
I smiled in encouragement with fond memories of my own journey away from Illinois at a far younger age, but something with the same mindset. He also reminded me of my own son who recently moved far away from the craziness of the Chicago area where the life expectancyof a young black man is extremely low.
I began to further engage him in conversation to alleviate his nervousness. I asked him if he had plans to make a living in Arizona via a job, school or some other future goals.
He was planning to pursue his CDL and drive trucks. I asked him if he enjoyed driving and if it was a labor of love. “I love driving,” he told me with his smile lighting up his eyes. I shared my own tales of my past driving job back in a little town called Tiverton near Cape Cod. [To be shared in my Rebe series post called “Rebe the Driver”]
After a brief silence as we worked through his nervousness over the difference between takeoff “plane rattling” and real turbulence, he told me “I wanted to learn programming, but I would have to go to school.”
This is where my eyes lit up.
“Well…” I began to tell him what I do and how I taught myself Salesforce. We talked about Salesforce Trailhead as an introduction as well as a couple of blogs that helped me out when I first started.
“I will give you my business card with all of the information on how you can get started, but it’s all up to you on how far you go. You get what you put in,” I told him.
He smiled and said thank you. “I have a lot of time on my hand right now, so I might as well check it out.”
I continued to tell him about my current trip to a conference filled with wonders and an industry often never even considered as attainable by young men of color in the cusp of their journey into adulthood.
It felt good talking with him, giving him my card and pointing him in the direction of this industry I now find myself a member of.
You never know what the “If’s” could lead to for this man as well as the progress I may have just impacted towards the hope that life changes could be made for not only him, but also others he will talk to.
All it takes is one.

2 responses to “Day 1: Paying It Forward to L.A.”

  1. I’m sure he will never forget those keys you gave him…..ever.

  2. […] K13 was a winner and I made my way to LAX. On the way to L.A. I scored a seat all the way in the back by the window next to a really cool young man. I wrote about our interaction in my post Paying It Forward to L.A.. […]

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