The Kindness of Strangers
So let’s talk about the kindness of strangers. Why is it that we find it so rare? And yet miraculous?
Most people I know will help out a stranger when they see them in need. I would even say it’s offensive to not help someone obviously in distress. I think our world is moving toward a happier society. One that when someone is in need will have to fend off people who want to help. Is this just my crazy point of view?
I must point out that even though I expect people to act decently and generously, it is always a delight when they follow through. It’s not taken for granted that strangers are willing to help strangers. It’s like a tiny miracle every time. Or even a big miracle.
I wonder if you would do the same in this lady’s situation. And if you, like me, also find it amazing.
It starts with flights, as it always does. It seems to me that everyone in airports are just constantly distressed. It’s not enough you have to deal with security, and ignorant people, and usually a language you can’t speak, but you also have to stay awake for the past 15 hours. And some people do this with kids!
Anyway, if you enjoy flying well that’s great. Good for you. And also, how dare you.
So here’s what happened. After spending a sleepless night in the Israel airport of Ben Gurion due to a sudden flight change, I had to get on and survive a 4.5 hour flight to Munich (so far so good) and then another 10 hour flight to Denver. I was quite disgruntled at the flight change, due to the fact that I had to spend an entire uncomfortable night in Ben Gurion and also not even fly to Frankfurt for a 6-hour layover that I was planning on using to tour a bit, but instead fly through Munich on a much shorter layover.
Anyway, due to this sudden flight change, I do not have my reserved Kosher meal anymore, which I totally should have checked before getting on a 10-hour flight, but hey, I was tired. So I get on the plane (which, incidentally, was an even better flight to Denver and I actually landed 2 hours earlier than expected) and wondrously, it’s mostly empty.
I take my assigned seat (long flights I usually get an aisle seat) and in the window seat is this lady. Usually I avoid talking to strangers. Usually strangers are weird and give their rap CDs to you and say that maybe they will make it big in Israel if you give other strangers their CD. But maybe the Colorado friendliness was rubbing off on me and I’m all, “Hi!” and she’s all, “Hi!” We get to talking while waiting for the plane to fill up and she tells me she is from Nevada and my tiredness makes me say “Oh, that’s a city!” (what?) and then she replies “I grew up in Las Vegas,” which I guess is maybe what I meant to say (who knows). Then, seeing as she is a much more seasoned traveler than I, she notes that the seats behind us are empty. “Maybe we can have empty aisles to ourselves!” she says.
So cool. So observant. And yes, after boarding is finished, I am able to stretch out on the entire length of 3 chairs, which is actually enough for me to be comfortable and also an advantage of being short.
Then we take off and it’s great and hours later when they are serving the first meal I look up hopefully and I see the flight attendant holding a tray and looking at the row I was sitting in. I look up hopefully and see that the food was being handed to the nice lady! I never got her name, by the way, so let’s call her Laura.
Laura takes the food and I say to the flight attendant, “Do you have a kosher meal for me?”
He doesn’t. When my flights were switched, my meal preferences were not recorded.
Of course I had plenty of snacks with me. And airplane food really sucks. But it is nice to have some food when you’re traveling for a day. And Laura says, “You can have my meal. I usually order Kosher because I don’t eat pork. As long as there are meals that do not have pork?”
The flight attendant assures her that the main entrée that day was pasta.
I carefully take my meal with thanks. And the same hand-off happened for the breakfast meal, as well! I was so overwhelmed with Laura’s generosity. She offered me her meal without even thinking. Of course, it was easy for her to offer, as she could eat the other meals offered. But I think her kindness was awesome. It truly showed the capacity of other people to acknowledge and treat others’ needs. And isn’t that what we are all here on Earth for?