I spent the first tumultuous week of 2021 disconnected from news and social media, driving from Washington state to California. Having not seen my father since the spring, my teenage son and I decided to rent an RV to go visit him safely—and along the way we rediscovered the decency that has gone missing from our national politics.
Hitting the open road in an RV was on my bucket list, but our aspiration of a self-sufficient “guy trip” quickly turned to dependence on the kindness of strangers.
We rumbled into our first stop well past closing time. The rain was pounding. I had no idea where to park, what to pay, how to hook up our generator or pump water. For a moment I was ready to gas up and go home, but then I saw a flashlight waving through the soggy darkness and rolled down my window.
“Are you Kelly?” an elderly woman shouted through the storm.
“Yes! Yes!” I sounded like a hostage being rescued.
“Welcome!” she yelled. “You made it safely! Let me show you where you can park.”
Rather than sleep in a warm bed, this grandmother was welcoming travelers after midnight, making them as comfortable as possible.
Unhurried conversations with locals running these parks, cafés and other establishments were another unexpected highlight. There were no rants about Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi or the government. They talked about the more enduring things in life: family, home and what brought us out their way.
With fewer interactions like these in the past year, our view of our fellow Americans has been distorted by social media and the news, which relentlessly focus on the most disruptive and negative forces in our country. But ordinary, generous people like the ones my son and I met make up most of America—the populous majority that doesn’t feed on online grievances. Most of the country is too busy living.
Mr. Kelly is a former executive vice president of Starbucks.
Check out the full article from Wall Street Journal here.