… on an embarrassment of kindnesses
April 30, 2018
Last week, I went to see Number One Son Sam play in – oh wait for it – The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra!
He’d called a few days before to say he’d be playing in their performance, along with the New Orleans Opera, to celebrate the Opera’s 75th anniversary. There was even a tux involved.
Was a big deal.
So I had to go! But…
And all the people crammed into each of them.
I wasn’t feeling particularly cattle-y.
When I have to travel by plane, all I want are a force field, a cloak of invisibility, and also maybe snacks.
I am, I confess, that person wearing the earphones and listening to nothing just so no one will talk to me.
When I found out Sam was playing in the big deal orchestra, I actually did math in my head that went like this:
If Lisa climbs into Gronk* on Friday… and it is 22 hours from Southport to New Orleans… and she stops twice to sleep along the way… would she arrive in time to shower and change before Sam’s matinée performance on Sunday?
The look on John’s face told me I was pushing the definition of sanity, even for me.
Airplanes it was. Dammit.
And, sure, it ended up being totally worth it.
I had my first taste of Opera and even recognized one of the songs from a Bugs Bunny cartoon called The Rabbit of Seville, which meant I was already totally cultured before I even went to the opera thanks to Looney Tunes!
It was an awesome visit filled with jazz and food and great conversations… but then I had to go home.
Which meant airports and airplanes and people (oh my!)
The announcements that greeted me, when I arrived at my gate, were not promising. The plane was full… make sure you only have one carry on… does anyone want to give up their seat… blah, blah, blah and something about Dante’s nine circles of hell.
I resigned myself to three hours of smoosh-ed-ness requiring visualizations of my happy place and the willingness to snarl at anyone who looked like they wanted to start a conversation.
But when I got to my seat (I like the window), I found a Mom in the aisle seat, and a little girl in the center seat.
Okay, so not AS smooshed as I could have been…
So that was kind of cool.
The Mom stepped out and the little – probably four or five year old – girl pulled up her feet and I slid by and sat down and buckled my seatbelt and pulled out my book.
That was when my seat neighbor introduced herself.
Her name was Charlotte.
She said something to her mother, who seemed very nice and smiled one of those smiles at me that said, “Oh I so hope you are not cranky”. I have lots of empathy for this type of smile, and for traveling with little kids in general, because a three year-old Gabe once threw a screaming, kicking fit from Orlando all the way up to Boston (where he promptly calmed down and said he felt better… as we taxi’d to the gate).
I found myself thawing to the idea of interacting with my small seat neighbor, if only to give her mom a bit of a break. This was when Charlotte seemed to remember that she had something in the seat pocket in front of her and jerked toward it.
She said, “I have an iPad!”
And, before I could even say, ‘wow’, she said:
“Please don’t steal it.”
I found this particularly nice because she said ‘please’.
I said I would not.
Then she gave me a choice of movies, and then she selected Beauty and the Beast.
A good choice, I told her.
We began to watch Beauty and the Beast and took off as Belle was looking for her Dad in the scary castle.
Suddenly, Charlotte began searching her little backpack wildly and came up with two pieces of gum, one she offered to me, so my ears wouldn’t ‘go off’.
Then she explained that, once, both her ears went off and they didn’t work for days. And I looked at her Mom, who nodded and said that’s why Charlotte has a whole bag of special treats that she gets when she flies.
Charlotte then pulled out that whole bag of special treats, which contained several boxes of gum, a roll of Life Savers, several bags of gummy treats, and other candies too!
And she was not selfish at all. She offered lots of treats to me, and I know that it is important to be as gracious a receiver as a giver, so I accepted her offerings with much gratitude. Eventually I just started piling up my new treasures because I couldn’t eat that fast!
Charlotte says that sharing is a big part of being kind and I agree.
In the middle of the flight, an attendant came by and asked Charlotte’s Mom if Charlotte could have a warm chocolate chip cookie. And, when it came, Charlotte even got her own set of pilot’s wings!
I don’t want to brag but she let me hold them.
When I wasn’t looking, she broke off a piece of her cookie and put it on my tray.
Later, suffering from giver’s remorse, she ate it.
Eventually, as we were watching Finding Nemo (we both like Dory a lot), we landed in Philadelphia. The bell dinged and everyone started moving around, gathering up their belongings and zipping up their bags.
And just as Charlotte was moving into the aisle, she said good-bye and looked up at her Mom and said that was fun.
Her mom smiled at me, mouthed ‘thank you’ and, to Charlotte, said “Yep, sometimes we get lucky.”
I smiled back…
Thinking exactly the same thing.
Thanks for readin’.
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*Gronk is my beloved truck