One of the amazing things in this world is the way we as human beings connect the dots. Even though each individual is just that, an individual, we are all so connected in many ways. Within the past few days, I have been communicating with a Twitter pen-pal, friend, and also a fellow in our vast aviation industry. We were discussing things we discovered that we have in common and how the world is really connected through special people.
Because of this discussion, I raised a question for all pilots and flight attendants in the commercial aviation spectrum, “Do you know who is in your cabin?”
Maybe there is someone on your flight who is getting married? Someone who is going to see someone take their first breath as a newborn, or perhaps, (which was my case a couple of months ago, unfortunately), watch someone take their last breaths as a human being? or is it someone is taking their trip of a lifetime (special needs, terminally ill, etc.)?
There was an event, actually on a flight coming back to JFK that really got me to contemplate and eventually compose this post:
I was boarding a Regional Jet for a major carrier which shall remain nameless after the last time I saw my father alive. It was the -900 series for Canadair and the gate agent announced that “most carryons” would fit in the overhead compartments. From my past experiences with this equipment, I haven’t had any issues with my carryons not fitting so I decided to give it a try despite the fact we were a full load going into Kennedy which was no surprise.
After finding my seat, I went to the clear overhead bin to place my carry on in and alas, it would not fit into the bin. Through my left ear I heard footsteps quickly pace up to me and in a flustered and condescending voice the flight attendant pointed at one of my luggage tags (that was used on a previous flight and not the one I was boarding), and said to me, “Sir, do you see this tag? This means that you were supposed to leave your luggage at the jet way to be stowed in cargo. You will have to go through the line, back to the front, and take it back to the jetway to be stored.” The flight attendant didn’t want to hear my explanation. The flight attendant only want to let me know how bad of a day they were having. What they didn’t know was the fact I was having just as terrible of a day as they were.. The end result was me piling through a line of people to get my luggage where it needed to be and a nice detailed (because I am an aviation geek) complaint letter to the airline.
It’s also beyond the cabin, in our daily lives, walking down the street. What a nice thing it would be to have someone simply smile at you and say, “Hello, Thank you, Have a good day!” or to hold the door open for you. Where I live, in New York City, it’s a hard thing to come by. But on the practical level, it’s showing another person that life isn’t cheap and that they are worth the respect no matter what they are going through in life both good and bad. What a random act of kindness that goes a long way!
My message is, to all pilots, flight attendants, passengers, and to all humanity: You don’t know the person sitting next to you until you assert that first random act of kindness, from that you can build not only yourself but others around you so that everyone can soar to new levels.