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Posts tagged ‘Kindness’

Seat 2D

Baby.
Sick baby.
Sick baby on a plane.
Sick baby on a plane on my flight.
Oh no! 

We’ve all been there, trapped on a flight with a screaming child, shrinking into our headphones, preparing to suffer for the next few hours however long the flight takes. Or if he’s not screaming, we mumble the mantra “I hope the kid doesn’t cry.” Because nothing, except maybe a toothache, seems more painful than. Being trapped. With a baby. With a baby on my flight.

This baby on a plane tale has a different story arc, however. Facebook exploded with shares about an anonymous gentleman on an American Airlines flight.

The flight attendant came over and told me you were waiting to switch seats. You were giving up your comfortable, first class seat to us.

Kelsey Zwick (on Facebook)

Kelsey Zwick & Lucy (via Facebook)

One thoughtful, generous first class passenger switched seats, giving his to a woman encumbered with a baby wearing oxygen tubing on a flight from Orlando, Florida to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kelsey Zwick was transporting her 11-month old daughter, Lucy, to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to be treated for chronic lung disease. Narrow, crowded coach seats hardly seat an adult comfortably let alone one with a baby on her lap. A stranger saw this and thought the mother and child would be more comfortable in first class. Now that’s class!

Having never flown first class, my thoughts wandered to the price of a first class seat. They aren’t discounted. Rarely can one be obtained for a mileage award. Even if someone had gifted him the seat, giving it up would have been somewhat painful. My point is, this likely cost the donor some bucks or caused discomfort! Other thoughts swarmed around “Wow.” Would I have been so prescient, so generous of spirit, to give up my comfort — the amount I paid! — for someone I didn’t know? someone I hadn’t met?

I like to think of myself as kind, maybe a bit noble (cough cough). But when faced with the question I just asked, I admit I would not have given my seat. I’ve given up my seat on the subway, ceded my place in line in a store, yielded to other traffic, and the like. Those actions have no monetary value; at worst they cost me some discomfort or time. When it comes to parting with substance or chattel I’m more chary. I think it comes from feeling like I will miss out on something. Mr. 2D saw a situation and did not compute a balance sheet. For whatever reason, he saw a situation and acted. He rose to the occasion.

Things to think about:
Can I be more charitable? More thoughtful? More giving? How can I rise to occasions — no, not just rise, but clearly see occasions — where I can be a giver, beyond my comfort? How can I be a more sensitive citizen of this world where superficial looks glance off people and on to the next interesting thing? How can I feel more deeply? Will there be a time when I will not calculate my potential “loss” into my equation of giving?

 

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Random Act of Bagels

What’s inside the box? What random act of kindness could be inside?

My box once held two bagels. I looked forward to enjoying their chewy goodness toasted with cheese melted on each half.  I had been at a party where they served a nice meal. At the end guests were asked to take the extra food home. I helped myself to the bagels, wrapping them in the time-honored fashion: in a napkin. I slipped them into my bag and boarded the subway home.

The bagels spoke to me from inside my bag. I knew exactly where the bread knife rested at home and saw myself slicing them into halves on my much-scored wooden cutting board. I heard the click of the toaster’s lever as I lowered them down in the slots, adjusting the browning knob to the perfect doneness. Ouch!  the hot bagel seared my fingertips as I pulled it from the toaster and popped the halves onto a microwaveable glass plate. Now, which cheese? Yellow cheddar or white Muenster? The cheddar won so the bagel was paved with small slices around the center hole.

My fingers slid over the microwave’s time controls. Too short and the cheese would be solid. Too long and it would be a burning puddle on the plate. How long would be just right? My fingers knew the right setting. Then the microwave buzzed and I opened the door. The gooey cheese puddled perfectly on the platter and steam curled from the surface. All I needed to do was take a bite….

I was savoring the anticipation of my cheesy treat when I heard a voice in the aisle. “Sorry to bother you but I’m homeless and haven’t eaten. If you can spare any change for food I’d appreciate it.” A scruffy-looking man in a soiled army-green coat had entered the car. “God bless,” he intoned as he walked down the aisle with his hat outstretched. He repeated his homeless plea again, humbly.

I knew what I had to do. I waited until he approached my seat then withdrew the bagels in their festive napkin. “Please enjoy this,” I said handing him the bagels. What was the dream of a cheesy bite in the face of a man who had nothing to eat. “God bless you,” he said looking into my eyes.

At that moment, providing a “box of kindness” to this unfortunate man tasted better to me than the most meltingly delicious cheesy snack I could ever prepare.

Some random act of bagels had fed my soul and nourished another, too.

I Feel Your Pain

 

A friend told me the following subsequent to reading my post from last week, The ‘Subway Hilton’ will be Full Tonight.

One day recently, after the Xmas shopping rush, his daughter had the occasion to go shopping in town. She set out armed with all of the “Mom paraphernalia,” a full diaper bag and snacks, plus her own handbag. She strapped her bundled up baby in his stroller and set off for the City. She muscled the stroller up to the train platform in Brooklyn. It is not an unusual sight to see young mothers with strollers struggling up these stairs as there are rarely elevators at those stations. I suspect the trip was uneventful.

When they arrived in the City she rolled the stroller off the train amidst the departing travelers. She faced two long flights up. She started wrestling the stroller up the steps. No passerby stopped to help. She reached the first landing panting. Suddenly she saw motion above, someone jumping over the turnstile. “Here, let me help,” he said extending his hand. He took the foot bar and made light work of carrying the stroller up to the main floor. They passed through the exit gate and she thanked him profoundly. “I appreciate your help. I couldn’t have done it as easily without you,” she said.

“Glad to help,” he replied. “You get to feel someone else’s pain when you’ve been there yourself.” She watched his disheveled form walk away and settle in the corner near the gate amidst some jumbled bags and crates. The man, she realized, was one of the denizens of the subway, an underground resident, willing to lend a hand when most would not.

One can experience kindness anywhere and everywhere.

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