I boarded a recent early morning flight already tired. As I settled into my seat a woman approached carrying a screaming infant and a tantruming toddler.
I knew what was next – they were destined to sit near me. I’m pretty sure it’s in my frequent flyer profile that anyone loud, stinky, annoying, snotting and eating smelly food must sit by me.
And here she comes – settling in to the seat right in front of me.
I have been that woman, I had empathy! But that didn’t make me less tired or less… ok. aggravated. I am sad to admit – I was annoyed the sleep I so craved was pushed further away – as if curled up in a window seat with your neck in some strange position and snoring sounds all around made it a lovely experience to begin with.
I did manage to sleep. I woke several times and the screaming and kicking and wailing were ever present. But I did drift back off.
As the plane began to land I cleared my head and began to gather myself in order to make a mad dash to the next gate. Then the flight attendant walked by to assure everyones seat backs and tray tables were in the upright position (yup) he stopped at the seat in front of me. He leaned down and spoke softly to the mom.
“Thanks for flying with us. I know it’s hard with kids but you guys were wonderful.”
Wonderful?? They screamed the whole time! The unlucky guy in front of the them got his seat kicked for the last two hours?! Did he really say wonderful?!
Then I watched the mom turn to him and I saw her physically respond. Her face almost melted and her eyes became this haunting plead.
“I’m so sorry…” she nearly gasped on the words. “Our flight last night was cancelled so we spent the night in the airport and they’ve been up for hours. They usually aren’t like this… It’s been so hard…” She spoke so frantically, as if she’d been dying to explain and here was someone she could talk to and she had to get all her story out before he left her… she HAD to feel heard! To explain herself.
And then I knew. He wasn’t a flight attendant at all. He was an undercover super hero. Swooping in to give a desperate woman some comfort and understanding.
Of course – I felt like a complete jerk because I could have offered to help her, given her a kind or understanding word, or at least a soft look of “been there – it gets better!”
But I missed my opportunity to matter to her. The flight attendant tho – he was ready.
Psalms 16 says,
“A kind word is wise,
a honeycomb of honey,
sweet to the soul and
healing to the bones.”
We brush elbows with people who are desperate for a hero every single day. They are in line with us at the store, they are in our newsfeed, they are our neighbors and family. They live in our home.
What if we all just slipped on an invisible cape first thing in the morning – and instead of lamenting our exhaustion and our crazy schedules and our annoyances – we kept an eye out for opportunities to be a listening ear. A kind smile. A note of encouragement.
I can totally dig a world with more #Superhero wannabes.