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Stories From The Airplane

I haven’t thought about that guy in awhile. A�Even after what happened, I couldn’t tell you anything about him. A�I wouldn’t be able to pick him out in a crowd, don’t know his name, and he doesn’t know mine. A�I can’t remember what flight I was working that he was traveling on, where we had flown, or the reason for his trip to Los Angeles. A�All I can tell you is that he was sitting in my exit row, and I call it my exit row, because I was responsible for briefing those rows that day.

And if you are jumping to any conclusions that, this time, I am going to tell you about dating or how to hit on a flight attendant, jump right back in line, because that is not where this story is going. A�For that, go there. A�But, for something else, stay here. A�I want to tell you about him, specifically, not because I did anything exceptional in this story(because I believe you would do the same), but because it’s The Holidays. A�And The Holidays remind me, and hopefully you too, of the goodness that can still be found in this world, goodness that we each can create if we so choose.

***

The last few passengers deplaned as my colleagues and I crossed seat belts, carrying a white trash bag in one hand while picking up strewn newspapers and forlorn water bottles with the other. A�As I reached Row 24, my eyes caught sight of a folded rectangle sitting quietly on the seat, unnoticed until now. Immediately I realized it was cash, a lot of cash. A� And only cash. A�No ID. No credit cards. A�No boarding passing. A�Nothing to say that the green bills belonged to someone. A�”Mark!!!” I waved my coworker over to where I was standing. A�”You know that guy that was sitting here?? I think he dropped his money, and I think it’s a lot of money.” A�Even as I asked for Mark’s advice, I had already made a decision of what I had to do. A�I knew I needed to find the passenger. A�Mark asked me how much money was there, and I asked Mark if I should give it to the gate agent, both of us knowing that if the money left my hands to an outside party, the traveller would most definitely be out a few hundred dollars. A�His only hope was that I find him, and my hope was that he would be waiting for luggage at the baggage carousel. A�I stuffed the money in the pocket of my navy blue, and exited the aircraft. A�I walked quickly through the terminal, Mark still by my side, parting ways at the escalator that would lead me to baggage claim and he to the employee bus. A�Mark wished me luck. A�Thank you. I would need it.

I scanned the crowds of people toting suitcases behind them, looking for a familiar face that would send me in the direction of where the passengers from my flight were waiting their luggage. A�And then I saw him, almost immediately. A�And I smiled. A�As he shook hands with his seat mate that he had chatted with during the flight, both men turned, and showed a look of surprise at seeing the flight attendant from their flight blocking the way toward the exit. A�”Check your pockets,” I said. A�As the man fumbled, pulling the insides of the pockets into the sunshine, he looked up at me, with a question on his face. A�”I think this belongs to you,” as I extended my arm with the offering. A�Complete shock registered on his face and his seat mate’s who had stayed to witness the event. A�”Thank you! Thank you so much!” A�He looked at his new friend standing next to him, and as if I wasn’t there, said, “I can’t believe this!” A�He repeated the that statement again, not so much for his seat mate’s benefit or mine, but maybe to ground himself in the moment. A�I had the biggest grin on my face, so happy to be part of this story. A�So happy to make this story happen in this way. A�He reached in the wad of cash, about to share the winnings, and in defense, my outstretched arm communicated a definite ‘Stop,’ as my feet backpeddled me ever so slightly.

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I laughed, smiled, and said “No,” A�as my head shook sideways in confirmation. “I travel so much, and you have no idea how many people have been SO good to me, helping me out when I’m in a bind. I’ve lost things. A�I’ve been lost. A�I’ve had people pay for my food or bus ticket. They’ve returned missing computers, and wouldn’t take any money as a thank you.” A�I hadn’t returned this passenger’s money because I expected a reward. A�The universe; God, people, maybe fate, whatever you want to call it, has watched over me. A�I just know it. A�I just believe it. A�I have seen it too much to deny that there isn’t SomeoneA�watching over me. A�I don’t know why I’ve been so fortunate and how good happens to me when I travel. A�I meet good people. A�I meet people that I put trust in, maybe almost too quickly, but they have honored that trust. A�They have been worthy of that trust. A�I’ve learned that when I travel, I will need people to help me, and I have to be willing to let them help me. A�I’ve created a short history of these people appearing when I need them.

When I refused payment in the monetary form, he nodded in understanding. A�I had already received my payment enough through his reaction and the feeling in my soul. A�I had just been able to return some of the good that has happened to me. A�He repeated a thank you, and said, “I’ll pay it forward.”

I hope that he has.

And to whomever he is, where ever he is, whatever he is doing, I hope that he remembers. Once again, not because I did something unique or amazing, but because I hope that it began a thought of marvel. A�Of wanting to do good. A�And I want to tell him thank you. A�Because doing good things for others, to use the cliched phrase, does more for the person giving than the one receiving. A�I want to say thank you for letting this story be in my life. A�This is what my job is about to me. A�This is The Flight Attendant Life; surprising people with goodness, renewing their faith in humanity, and even though serving cokes or picking up trash may not change a life, I want others to see Sparkle.A�Why does she smile like that? A�And where do her bubbles come from? A�I want to make them begin questioning. A�I hope to be a catalyst in their discovery of a more beautiful existence. A�Because this is the discovery that I have embarked on, and people have been part of that discovery for me. A�People that I will NEVER be able repay.

All I can do is live my life in such a way: A�Live to “Pay It Forward.”

Lisbon, Portugal

I want people to seeA�SparkleA�in me:)

  • Ginger

    I see the Sparkle 🙂 Great story!

    December 26th, 2012 20:54
    01

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