Something happened to me recently that just shook me. In fact, it shocked me.
I got up at 4am to catch a 7am flight to Chicago. Thank goodness for Uber, as I arrived at the airport with almost 2 hours left before my flight. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to negotiate baggage check in, security lines, breakfast and getting to the gate. The reason being that this past Labor Day weekend was supposed to be the heaviest travel weekend since the beginning of Covid some 3.5 years ago.
All went well except for one thing. The hike to my gate turned out to be much longer and more circuitous than I had expected. Originally told that the gate was A11, but then finding out that the gate had been changed to S8, ended up “allowing” me to walk some 4,000 steps. Can’t complain. A good way to get my daily exercise. Right?
Well, I finally arrive at my plane’s gate some 15 minutes before boarding is to start. When I arrive, I immediately begin to search for a seat, a chair, a bench to sit down on, as I wait for the boarding process to start. Finding none, I decide to stand in the main aisle, just a few feet from most of the seats that are occupied by many other travelers.
Standing here does not bother me. I feel somewhat energized by the healthy walk (4,000 steps) that I have just been on. I have my carryon luggage with me, plus my briefcase. All is good, I am thinking to myself.
It is at this point that something happens that just rocks me.
As I am looking around, taking in the scene, noticing the others that are going to be traveling on the same flight that I am, my eyes notice a gentleman sitting in one of the seats. He is in his mid 50’s, balding, trim, well over 6 feet tall, wears glasses and is surrounded by his two teenage daughters and his wife. All of them sitting in 4 seats in the waiting area next to the gate S8.
He catches my eye and motions to me, with out using his voice, but clearly asking me if I want to sit in his seat. He could not have been nicer, yet a word was never spoken. He used his hands and arms and facial expression to ask me if I wanted to sit in his seat.
Holy cow! I could not believe it.
I of course used my hands and face to tell him NO, but thank you.
And then I began to think to myself, what in the hell is happening here. Do I look like an invalid? am I in a wheelchair? Am I using a cane? Am I bent over at the waist? Am I clearly in pain? Do I look like I am 100 years old? What in the hell would have caused this gentleman to ask to give up his seat for me?
This gentleman was willing to give me his seat even though he had a family to take care of, even though he was sitting next to his two teenage daughters, even though he was responsible for himself and three other people. What could have possibly spurred him to offer me his seat, I ask myself.
I was so distressed by this that I pull out my phone and punch the camera icon, and then punch the selfie button, so that I can take a look at myself. Do I look impaired? Do I look distraught? Do I look feeble? Do I look 100 years old?
I was shocked.
Later I found my seat on the plane. A new and different emotion overcame me – namely, a feeling of unbelievable gratitude. Gratitude that someone, a total stranger, would be so kind as to offer his seat to another person. That, in itself, is such an act of kindness.
On top of that, he did it while he was in the middle of his family and all the obligations that go with that. Truly amazing. An act of kindness that goes way above and beyond.
I keep my eye out for him as fellow passengers file past my row on the plane, hoping that I can catch him and thank him for his gesture. But, unfortunately, when he enters his head is down and I, sitting in a window seat, cannot catch his attention as he moves past my aisle. I never was able to thank him for his effort.
Nevertheless, I am in awe of what he did. How wonderful to see and be a part of something so genuine and so nice in this day and age.
Within a 30 minute time period, I experienced both shock and awe.