Today the kids and I flew from PDX to LAX. The seats weren’t reservable online and so I called the airline to make sure the kids and I would all be seated together. Obviously we can’t have a seven year old sitting by herself and a nine year old sitting by himself and a mom quietly enjoying a good book elsewhere on the plane. Although the part about a quiet book sounds nice, we rarely get to fly and so I find being near the enthusiasm of the kids just as enjoyable as a good book. The airline gave us three seats together.
Fast forward to flight day and as we board the plane I become more and more nervous as we near our seats. Jet engine seats. As in right over the engine. As in NO VIEW. Not a single square inch of take-off, mountain-peak, speedy-landing, unique to air travel only view. I ask the flight attendant what can be done to remedy the foreseeable disappointment of two excited kids. Nothing. At. All.
I take her recommendation to ask fellow passengers to help a mother out. So I asked. Starting with the row in front of us. I asked. I explained that my little kids can’t see anything from their seats and that they rarely fly and were so looking forward to watching the world below from the sky above. Sadly, those people couldn’t care less. Then the next. Then the next. I repeated for seven solid rows. You guys, this is hard to say, but I lost some serious hope in humanity today. Who doesn’t look out for little kids? Nobody would trade. There were no other children in any of those rows. By the looks of things, they were seasoned travelers who have looked out an airplane window lots of times. In fact, and this might be the worst part, there were people with their window blind pulled shut. At one point during the flight FOUR of the seven rows that I asked had their shade closed. Four. They weren’t even using the window and they still wouldn’t trade.
WHAT THE HECK?! Who are these people?! Am I way off track here, or does it just seem crazy and sad that nobody would be willing to stand up, walk a few feet, and then resit for the sake of little kids? This isn’t about my kids specifically, but instead it’s about the general idea that we can give up a tiny bit of our daily selfishness to show kindheartedness to the wonder of young eyes. I thought that this concept was universally understood as a standard of politeness. Guess not.
My kids held out hope. For seven rows of mom glimmer. Once they realized their fate, my son had some silent tears as the disappointment became real.
So here’s what I said to him.
Listen up buddy. We can’t make choices for other people. We can’t choose how other people behave. So here is what you have to do. You have to remember the feeling that you’re having right now. Remember how bad you feel and how bummed out you are. When you become an adult, you do everything you can to help prevent little kids from experiencing the feeling that you’re having right now. Don’t let the coldness of other people get in the warmth of your heart. He swallowed his tears, nodded his head in understanding, and made the best of the flight.
And here’s what I say to you.
Don’t be cold. Remember when your heart was warm. Youthfully sensitive to the needs of others. Remember that feeling and use it to help the world out. Whether its holding the door open for someone or offering a friendly smile. Our job is kindness and our calling is love. Show the children of the world that people like you make up for the airplane people. Display for them the overwhelming power of simple kindnesses so then they will return the favor in their adulthood. Also, for Pete’s sake…
GIVE UP YOUR WINDOW SEAT. You were spoon fed an opportunity to make someone’s day. Instead you wasted it on a hard place to rest your travel pillow.