The Kindness of Strangers

Jun 20, 2013

The plane had touched down, but the young mother was still flying high.

She was traveling through three airports with her one and four-year-old children to visit relatives several states away.


Hauling a diaper bag, car seat, and other paraphernalia needed for two little ones, this mother had her hands full.  She had thoughtfully prepared snacks, activities and everything else she could think of to make their trip go smoothly.


So an unexpected encounter with a fellow traveler was especially gratifying to her.


The gentleman was waiting for the same flight they would be boarding.  He smiled as he watched the family’s gentle interactions.  When the mother spoke to him, it was clear that English was not his native language.


He asked her, “What is ‘behave?’”  The mother explained that we use that word to describe children minding their parents and acting respectfully.


“Ah!” he exclaimed.  “Your children BEHAVE!”  His admiration of the children was clear.  At that moment, their flight was called and they boarded the plane.


For the remainder of the flight, that parent felt as if she had an ally.  She knew someone really saw and valued her family.


After they landed, she was walking on air. It was such a small thing that he did, but it made a big difference for one family’s otherwise stressful experience.


Every day, our journeys cross the paths of others who may be carrying a heavy load.  Some of them are people dealing with loneliness, ill health, divorce or loss of a job.  It’s hard to imagine the universe of pain playing out in the lives of those we meet casually.


But one thing is sure:  Kindness is a welcomed relief to a lonely soul, a hurting heart, or a stressed parent.  A soft word accompanied by a warm smile may make a real difference in one person’s experience.


A small gesture of support can mean the world to a parent struggling to get by.  It’s not rocket science; it’s just human kindness.  And kindness expressed to parents will have a powerful impact on their children.