Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Friendly Skies

A couple years ago, I was flying to Las Vegas to visit my mom and sister for the weekend, and I was just not feeling well. Flying has never really been a problem for me - I've never had to become intimately acquainted with an airsick bag or anything - but that night I was really struggling. When the drink cart came by? I tried sipping on Sprite. Snacks? Yes, I'll gnaw on a few pretzels. It was helping a bit, but I was still feeling lousy. For the first time in my life, I actually pressed the call button to bring an attendant over.

The man who came to see what I needed was short, bald, and tubby 'round the tummy. But more importantly, he had a kind smile and didn't seem annoyed that I had required some sort of assistance. "Would it be possible to get some sort of a wet cloth or something to put on my head?" I asked. "I'm just feeling a little sick and I think it might help."

"Oh dear," he said, looking concerned. "Unfortunately, we don't really have any cloths or anything like that, but I could wet some paper towels for you." I said that would be great, and he went to get some for me. As soon as I put them against my forehead, I began to breathe a little easier. After a few more minutes, the same flight attendant came back again to ask how I was feeling. He also offered to bring me some more Sprite or some Ginger Ale, and when I said, "If there are any more pretzels-" he immediately offered to bring me some. At the end of the flight, I thanked him for helping me, and he brushed it off easily. "I just hope you're feeling better," he said.

So, to that man, whose name I sadly don't remember, thank you. I realize that your job is a thankless one, and that you're often stuck in the skies with whiny, obnoxious human beings. But I want you to know that this nameless, faceless passenger is grateful for your kindness.

And feeling much better - thanks.

Online thanks

At the airport (c/o Washington Post)

On Mass Transit

On the roads of Los Angeles (c/o Illuminate LA)

Returning what was lost in NYC (c/o New York Times)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thank you

Framingham, MA, April 27, 2008
Dear Man in the Supermarket Parking lot,
Thanks for taking my cart back inside today just because you happened to be walking in that direction.

Oxford, England, July 1997
Dear Elderly German couple,
Thank you for picking my husband and me up when we were walking to the train station in the rain with our bags. Maybe you don't technically count as strangers because we met you in a restaurant a few days before that. We enjoyed talking to you and ultimately sharing a meal with you at that bar beside the river. Our encounter was brief, but as you can see, your kindness hasn't been forgotten.

But you did, but you did, but you did

One only needs to tune into any 24-hour news outlet for tales of war and violence, poverty and disaster. You do what you can at home to help- you recycle, teach your kids to say 'please' and 'thank you', maybe you even have the time to volunteer for a worthy cause. We live in a world that can be harsh and boorish and and yet, most of experience moments of grace and kindness, often in the presence of a total stranger.

This blog was created for the singular purpose of thanking those individuals who went out of their way- and even those who were just doing their jobs- to create a moment of kindness, to save the day, to make you smile. This blog is a space to celebrate the kindness of strangers.

Some strangers donate blood and organs

Some strangers feed parking meters when they see time is about to run out

Some strangers open doors

Some strangers share what they have, even when it's not much

Some strangers see a parent pushing a stroller and help carry it up a flight of stairs or off of a bus

Some strangers share their umbrella

Some strangers return lost wallets

Some strangers lend a hand, or give up a seat, or pay you a compliment on a day you really need it

Some strangers remind us that not all people suck

Go ahead, thank one.