MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — At the Us Cafe in Muskegon, Nina Leask and Sid Simone reminisce like old pals as they look at old photos.
However, it’s only their third reunion.
When Leask and Simone first met, it happened under not-so-great circumstances.
Both of them were stranded at Chicago O’Hare Airport after a snowstorm canceled their flight to Muskegon in January 2019.
“I came home because I had to sue a client for my staffing agency, and the last thing that I needed to do was pay hundreds of dollars to stay in a hotel or sleep in a cot,” said Simone.
At the time, Leask noticed the worry on Simone’s face.
“I could see what I know now is Sid going, ‘Okay,’ kind of panicking,” said Leask. “It reminded me of me in my early years of traveling.”
So, Leask offered Simone a place to stay for the night.
“I was like, ‘Um, I just booked a hotel room and it does have double beds,’” remembered Leask.
It was their introduction to one another.
“The first conversation, the first words that I had with Nina was, she turned around and says, ‘I have a room!’ It was like, ‘Uhhhh,’” said Simone.
But to Simone’s surprise, she trusted Leask and said yes to the offer.
“I feel like I’m always giving a lot, but it’s not always reciprocated, so I felt like that was my day for someone to take care of me and say, ‘Hey, here’s a nugget; here’s some help,’” said Simone.
The strangers soon turned into friends.
That night, they bonded over their West Michigan hometowns and other mutual interests. When they got a flight the next day into Grand Rapids, Leask’s husband drove Simone home.
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“That was a huge gift for me,” said Leask. “The fact that you accepted my gift — and I didn’t think of it as a gift at the time — it’s just, you know, this is what you do with a traveler. You see someone, ‘Psh, come on, we’re going.’”
Three years later, the women talk and meet when their schedules allow.
“It doesn’t have to be every day or every week, but it’s so nice to see, like, ‘Oh, hey! Here’s Sid.’ It just brings a smile to your face,” said Leask.
During a time in which people may be wary of those around them, Leask and Simone say take a chance on kindness.
“You never know when someone just needs a smile,” said Leask. “Sometimes it can be as simple as holding the door or a smile. In this case, it was a lot more than that.”
It could lead to a pal they never knew they needed.
“Every time we see each other, we have to hold back the tears,” said Simone.
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