Ann Curry, who co-anchored The Today Show with Matt Laurer from 2011-2012, was on television this morning, admitting she was was "not surprised" to have heard about the sexual misconduct scandal that got Lauer swiftly fired last year.
But her work on NBC News, and the controversy around departure from The Today Show, are not what I think of when I hear her name.
Instead, I remember a very simple story about an airline flight she was on, probably in 2006 or 2007. And I think that once you've heard it, you might remember it, too.
"Her husband carried the car seat"
The flight was from Lima, Peru to Miami. Curry was traveling with her husband and children. At the time, I think she would have been the news anchor on The Today Show. (She later was promoted to co-anchor.)
My sister and her husband and their baby were on the flight, too. They and Curry's family were the last people in line to board the plane.
Maybe you've had that kind of experience: trudging down the aisle, feeling as if everyone else is silently blaming you for the late departure they're sure will follow.
It's even more fun when you're traveling with a baby. My sister was struggling a bit to get on board and organized.
Curry and her husband came to their rescue, helping my sister and her husband to carry their bags down the jetway and onto the plane, so they could tend to their baby.
"Her husband carried [the] car seat," my sister reminded me via text today, when I asked her to remind me about the encounter. "They looked like a nice, smart, decent family."
A few minutes of kindness
There. That's it. That's pretty much the whole story.
In real time, how long did the whole thing last? Three minutes? Five?
It was a nice thing to do--but it wasn't heroic or anything. Curry probably forgot the whole thing by the time she settled into her seat.
Keep in mind, I wasn't even on the flight. I heard it all secondhand. But, for more than a decade, whenever I've heard the name "Ann Curry," this is the impression that's popped into my mind.
When I saw her name in the news in this morning, it's the first thing I thought of again.
Not, "war correspondent and respected reporter."
Not, "presence on NBC News for the better part of two decades."
Not, "co-anchor who people say Matt Lauer screwed out her spot on The Today Show."
Instead: "woman and her husband who were nice to my sister on an airplane."
Drive on, do better
The poet Maya Angelou famously said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
This story is that sentiment in action.
It's about the quick, positive interaction you have with with an employee that builds loyalty to a brand for years to come.
It's about the kindness you see a colleague pay to someone without knowing you're there, that makes you see them in a completely different light.
And sometimes, it's the opposite: the unthinking, negative experience that colors your image of a person or an institution for life.
It's also about the impressions that you and I have left on other people. I shudder as I write this of the bad impressions I've probably made at times. I've had bad days like everyone else--when I was angry, or distracted, or just acting selfishly.
We're human. It happens.
But I also hope we've all had our Ann Curry moments--those positive impressions that people remember, even when they don't remember us.
And now that you've heard it and thought about it, perhaps you'll remember it too.