#48 Cowboy on a Plane
Flying with Kids
A recent stranger write up, reminded me about enjoying my kids at the airport. That reminded me of another memory involving my kids and an airplane. I have always enj0yed my kids, even on trips. But when my husband offered to sit with our 2 young kids on a flight, I grabbed the isolated seat and pulled out a book. Ahh! 2 hours of reading ahead!
Sitting beside me was a long legged man in cowboy boots. He fiddled with the cowboy hat in his lap. I bumped him as I got settled, he smiled when I apologized. I sensed this man was a talker, but I so wanted to read. I hurried to get started on my book.
I must have reread the same paragraph 4 times because I was so distracted by his sniffling. Why did I have to be seated by someone with a cold? Why doesn't he have a Kleenex? Is he expecting me to offer him one? I shrunk tinier in my seat as he fidgeted and fumbled. Was he wiping his nose on his sleeve?
Then I reached for my purse and offered him a tissue. He made full eye contact as he thanked me and I could suddenly see his eyes were watery. "I'm sorry." The cowboy apologized. "I'm sort of in a state. I'm heading to my grandmother's funeral." The moment he uttered those words, the image I had of this big, tough guy just melted.
My book stayed closed on my lap for the rest of the flight, while my new friend told me stories about his grandmother. I don't remember the details, I just remember how touched I was to witness this change in character. He hadn't changed, but my view of him had.
Thanks, Cowboy Friend.
You taught me a lesson about first impressions. I saw your boots and hat and expected you to be an armrest hog at the very least. You became a person I never expected. You were kind and thoughtful and best of all you didn't try to hide your vulnerability. When my grandmother died a few years later, I thought of you. You must have been a wonderful grandson!
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To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers