I recently found myself settling into my seat on the Dallas-Oklahoma City leg of my flight home from New Orleans, when I noticed the elderly gentleman. He was having a tough time. The flight was completely full with seemingly no room remaining for his bag. His body looked tired and his face defeated. It’s an awful feeling to be “that person.” He was holding up the aisle. The passengers behind him were getting anxious. You could feel the distinct energy of tension rising.
My seat was next to the window and my seatmate had already arrived. I felt trapped in my row and helpless observing this increasingly awkward scene. The young man sitting in the row in front of me stood up and intervened. Luggage got stored overhead. The gentleman was now able to locate his seat and clear the aisle. It turns out they were seated next to each other.
Normally when I fly, I get deep into reading a book or fall asleep quickly, but I couldn’t help to listen in on the conversation that was developing. The gentleman was very grateful to this young man. And any mother would have been incredibly proud of the young man’s kindness toward and interest in the elderly gentleman. The younger man didn’t just say “you’re welcome,” then turn inward with headphones on. He seemed really interested in his seatmate.
Their conversation turned to life details. It turns out the gentleman was a retired professor from UCO in Edmond, while the young man was currently on UCO’s staff. I did eventually retreat into my book, but could hear their laughter and continued exchange throughout the flight.
When we landed in Oklahoma City, the elderly man I saw stand up was different than the one who boarded the flight. His head was high, he was standing tall and there was a smile on his face. He actually looked markedly younger. The younger man had an ease about him. Both men were obviously calm and seemed genuinely happy.
The younger man got all their bags down and as they shook hands to say goodbye, my eyes welled up a little. What transpired on that short flight was someone simply being nice to another. And the transformation that took place was amazing. I witnessed the hands and feet of God on that plane. And it didn’t cost a thing – not a penny and no extra time. The dividends will ripple into places unknown.
It was fun to watch someone being nice! You never know just who might be watching you and learning valuable lessons for their own life journey. Be sure to show them your best today!
Originally published for St. Luke’s Daily Devotional series on Tuesday, October 27, 2015