I never cease to be amazed at the things people do on airplanes.
But what I witnessed yesterday topped them all.
Usually I sit next to a talker.
(Ironic, I know, but I really do like to just sit quietly and read. When I’m on a plane, that is.)
Often I wind up next to the person who’s just come down with the flu.
Or someone with a crying child.
Today on my puddle jumper flight to DFW the child who was just discovering his full lung capacity was sitting behind me. He didn’t cry. In fact, he was quite enjoying himself, exploring his ability to make sounds. Loud, intermittent bleets that came without warning, like some infantile morse code being exchanged with the toddler who was sitting several rows in front of us, bleeting back.
Only 45 minutes, I kept telling myself.
The next leg of the flight was worse.
This time it was a tiny baby, obviously hurting from the pressure in her ears, or in her gums from teething.
She started before we ever left the ground. And didn’t stop until it happened.
People from the front of the plane were turning around in their seats looking for the culprit, with “make it stop!” written all over their glaring faces.
Their faces said what I was thinking.
The mother kept a steady stream of “shushes” going, interspersed with jokes about the baby’s crying, intended to distract the rest of us. Her voice became more annoying than the baby’s crying.
Then the most incredible thing happened.
The man sitting next to her, a rank stranger, very gently asked the mother if she would let him hold the baby.
For the last thirty minutes I’d been sitting behind this big burly guy thinking, wow, he must really be hacked.
Maybe he was, but instead of sitting there annoyed, he got involved. He took the baby in his arms as though he’d done that thousands of times, and within seconds the crying ceased.
Maybe the Dramamine kicked in.
Or maybe it was something else.
Whatever the reason, it was pretty amazing.
At least it was to the little girl sitting behind him.