Kindness in Flight

During the holiday season – inevitably, many of us will take flight to visit family, friends, and other loved ones.  Flying can be stressful.  It can bring out the best and the worst of us… and sometimes, airports leave us feeling very much alone despite the many thousand people who are around.  Luckily, kindness can rid us of the loneliness and bring people, who normally would be sepearated by thousands of miles, together.  Early this December, a random act of kindness changed my airport experience, forever.

It was one of the first weekends of December, I was returning from a funeral in my family, and an overall tough weekend emotionally.  Finals week was also looming and there was way too much on my mind.   And despite the many thousands of people who were going about their business around me in the Portland airport, I never felt so alone.   For the first time in a very stressful month, I was alone with my thoughts.  At that very moment, I found the nearest empty set of chairs, took a seat, and shed long-overdue tears.

Not more than 5 minutes later, a woman, about my mother’s age approached me.  She handed me a Kleenex, asked if I was OK and if I needed any help.   As she asked, I couldn’t help but word vomit what was on my mind to her.  Thoughts of my grandfather’s death, school, life, and the ever-looming finals week came out.  As soon as  I spilt these words out – I wanted to take them back, I wanted nothing more but to not burden anyone else with my problems or stress.  She sat there with me, as if I were her own daughter, “I’ve been there before, this too shall pass,” she spoke, and got up and left as I composed myself.

She then shortly returned, with a Starbucks coffee in hand and a piece of chocolate.  “Everyone every now and then could use a little extra caffeine and chocolate,” she handed the items to me, and walked away.  That little act of kindness, just sitting there and making sure I was OK, made all the difference.

Life is tough, airports are tough places, there are various emotions that can be experienced and many different situations that are going on.  Don’t be afraid, take the first step, share that extra bit of kindness.

Needless to say – with such a profound kind act taking over my day that morning, I couldn’t help but pay it forward.  As soon as I got off my flight, I dashed over to the nearest Starbucks and purchased a five-dollar gift card and a bar of chocolate.  And the first person I found that looked just a little bit alone and a little down, I gave them to.  The reaction, was worth every little bit.  Through kindness, we can make the occasionally difficult holiday travel, just a little bit easier.