Jeff Gunderson wrote a great story about on the effect Nice Bike had on his honeymoon in Japan! After my bride Susie and I read it, we absolutely loved it and knew we had to share. I remember Madeline, Jeff’s wife! What a wonderful person. He hit the lottery on that one. The story is woven together so well and he gets a gold star for his ability to draw a picture and weave a story. He gave us his permission to share it on our network, that and point people in his direction.

Thank you, Jeff, for sharing your story and telling the Nice Bike story!

Nice Bike. Two words that had a bizarre & profound effect on my honeymoon this past January. There’s no easy way to streamline this story so if you came for a quick read, feel free to check out another article of mine. As always, for those that stay – I think you’ll be in for a treat.

A few years ago, my wife, Madeline, attended a 3M conference in Minnesota. The keynote speaker was a guy by the name of Mark Scharenbroich. Mark is a speaker, motivator, management trainer & author of the book, Nice Bike. Before the conference started, Madeline was finding her seat in the front row and started chatting with Mark (having no idea at the time who he was). After a few minutes, Mark told her he had to go back stage and get ready, at which point she started putting the dots together on who she’d been talking to over coffee. Before Mark went back stage he pulled out his book, signed it, and wrote a quick message inside the cover. Something to the tune of “your smile and outgoingness will take you far.” Again, I’m paraphrasing here. Later in the day, Mark gave his speech about the principal of Nice Bike and even gave a shout out to Madeline in front of thousands of attendees about how she naturally applied the core value of his book earlier that morning. Mark was right – she really is the best at this.

Madeline flew back home that Sunday, shared her story and showed me the book. It sat idle on our shelf for about a year until last summer I picked it up and decided I’d give it a read. Afterall, I’m envious of her ability to engage & connect with people on such a genuine level.

The book’s core value: To make meaningful connections on the road of life. To engage people who you don’t know with a smile & a compliment – you never know where it may lead you.

Fast forward a few months. It’s winter in Houston and the temperatures at night are fluctuating. It’s usually ranging from warm to hot year-round so naturally we sleep with the air conditioning on, even during the winter. However, for a few days in a row this past December the temperatures at night were dropping and when it’s 50 degrees outside plus air-conditioning inside – you can find yourself freezing at 2am. After a few nights of that, I went to the closet and pulled out a small sized blanket. I brought it in bed and nestled in it. My wife was not a fan of this.

“What are you curling up in? Can we just turn on the heat?”

I said, “No, I like sleeping with the room a little cold. I just want a little wubby.”

“A wubby? WTH is a wubby?”

I said, “you know…like a blankly. Like a word that little kids say.”

She had never heard of the term wubby so I went and explained that maybe it’s a word that northerners use. I explained how it’s toddler-talk for a small sized cloth/blanket. A security blanket, essentially. When little kids get overwhelmed, or scared or uncomfortable…they have their wubby. We had a good laugh about how every member of my family had a “wubby” and how I thought it was a mainstream word and how odd it was that she had never heard of it, ever. She was still skeptical of my need for it but at least we had gotten on the same page from an urban dictionary standpoint (and isn’t that what married life is really all about?). Funny enough as time went on, Maddy started hogging the blanket more and more. After about a week, I had to bring a second one to bed as my original wubby had been completely commandeered by you know who.

Skipping ahead a few weeks, Madeline and I are in Japan for our Honeymoon this past January. It’s evening and we’re en route from Osaka to Tokyo. We’ve been traveling much of the day on trains and we’re nearing the final stint. The bullet train took us to Shinagawa station, Tokyo. It was at this smaller station that we transferred to a local train that would take us to the much larger  for the final leg of our journey.

Shinjuku station is the largest in the world at 1.26 million passengers per day. Madeline and I were arriving at around 6pm – rush hour. As we began riding the local Tokyo train on our way to Shinjuku, we began to realize our time of arrival and as we start to look up next steps on our phones, the enormity of it all starts to set in. At this point, we’re exhausted from the travel. Our body clocks are 15 hours off and we’re about to attempt to navigate the aforementioned station.

As we’re crammed into this local subway/train I’m simply huddled to the side, barely functioning on basic sensory motor skills. And what does Madeline do? She looks up and notices a man who was not Japanese, wearing a Boeing jacket. She says, “Nice jacket. It looks really good on you and we flew here on a Boeing plane from Houston and it was awesome.” His face lit up. Just like Mark Scharenbroich said it would.

We got to chatting with the man about his job at Boeing, what brought him to Japan, etc. He was a lead engineer for Boeing’s Asia territory and he said he comes to Tokyo a handful of times per year. It was a 15-minute ride and it felt like we all became best friends. Talking business, life, our wedding, etc. For those that haven’t met my wife, she’s the kind of person that asks how you’re doing and is genuinely interested in every single detail of your answer. She’s the kind of person that if you respond with “pretty good” she’ll stand there in a blank stare until you come up with a better answer. Most strangers that ride an elevator with her feel like she’s their best friend by the time they reach ground level – I can’t imagine how this guy felt after an entire train ride.

As it turned out, our hotels we’re in the same general area and we realized we were all getting off at the same stop, Shinjuku station. And on the topic of realizations – he realized we would be helpless in Shinjuku the moment we stepped off the train. He said, “when we get off, why don’t you two follow me. I’ll show you how to grab your luggage, find the correct exit, etc.”

On paper, I’m sure those things seem rudimentary but I swear on everything I hold dear…when we got off that train at 6pm….it was absolute pandemonium. Had it not been for this guy, I would have pulled a Will Smith in Pursuit of Happiness and crawled into a bathroom, locked the door, cried and went to sleep. Thousands of people moving insanely fast in every direction. I grabbed Maddy’s hand and we followed him as aggressively as we could, staying as close as possible. Even with both of us solely focused on him, we were constantly 15-20 yards apart. That’s how crazy it was. And every time I felt like we lost him – 3 seconds later we’d see him standing still, turned around waiting for us. Not all the platforms and sections had escalators and he helped carry Madeline’s bag down 2 massive flights of stairs. To be clear – my wife does not…how do you say it… “pack light.” He offered to carry her bag the rest of the way and all I could think of was, “my god man, if you’re suicidal just ask for help. Death by cosmetics suitcase is no way to go out.” After the first 100 yards of lugging her Tumi bag, I thought maybe he’d be the one going full Will Smith train station bathroom meltdown mode, but no. He guided us and carried us for 20 minutes like a guardian angel of some sort. He was our security blanket. Helping us in our time of need and distress.

We finally got to a big fork in the station and he said “I’m this way & you’re that way,” pointing to the adjacent doors. Madeline thanked him and gave him a bigger hug than I think I got on our wedding day. As he turned around and passed through the exit’s turnstile, Maddy yelled, “Excuse me sir!” He turned around. “We never got your name!”

“Wuby” he said, “it was nice to meet you both.” Two seconds later, he was gone. Completely disappeared in a sea of people.

At this point, I can’t even process what I just heard. I’m in a zombie-like state and honesty contemplating if I’m dreaming or not. I’m trying to get a grasp on things and recalibrate the directions he gave us to find our way. I turn to Maddy to see if I had heard his name correctly and notice she’s full on crying. Sobbing. Hysterical. Textbook on all accounts. Turns out, it was HER turn to have the Will Smith train station meltdown (and really, who could blame her?). I grab her hand, somehow coral the luggage and make a B-line for the door.

We get to our hotel and facetime my parents the next morning. I tell my mom the Wubby story. She’s hysterical. Also textbook. My dad’s in the background taking it all in (he loves a good story) and I tell him I kind of want to find Wuby on LinkedIn. My mom yells “No! He doesn’t exist! That was an angel from heaven. Divine intervention!” Madeline agreed. Textbo— well, you know the drill.

The truth is. Wuby wasn’t an angel. He wasn’t a figment of our imagination. Wuby was the result of my wife making a connection on the road of life. She found someone in the business world and each person gave value to one another. He was the result of doing in real life what we all strive to do on LinkedIn every day.

I’ve talked a lot this year about the value of being human and being treated like one, and for what it’s worth, I’ll likely keep doing so.