|The view from 36,000 feet|
Last week after I got on an airplane, one of the stewardesses asked another passenger if he would please trade seats with a woman in the back of the plane who was terrified to fly and wanted to move toward the middle of the plane. He gladly swapped and the woman came to sit on the same row as me, two seats down.
Those of us sitting nearby had heard the conversation and knew that the lady was crying and was near a panic attack. I was not close enough to talk to her, but the man next to me was.
He gave her a minute or two to get settled and then began talking to her.
"So, you are afraid to fly?"
"Is this your first flight?"
"No. I feel this way every time."
"Where are you from"
In his friendly and compassionate way, he continued to engage her in small talk. The man had been working a Sudoku puzzle before she came to sit beside him. As the plane started to take off he was running out of conversation so he asked, "Do you ever work Sudoku puzzles?" No answer. The plane was getting louder and faster and he asked, "Do you do crossword puzzles?" No answer.
Then he said, "I'm trying to keep your mind off of what the airplane is doing."
"I know you are and thank you so much. I don't do crosswords." And she started talking again. She had tears in her eyes and cried again when we landed, but she made it without completely falling apart.
I'm thankful for the kindness of strangers. His perseverance in helping her brought tears to my eyes for some reason and the thought ran through my mind that he might be an angel, put there to comfort a fellow passenger. In conversation I had with him, I found out that he is a mechanic with the FAA and is also a pilot. I don't know if he felt like he was put there "for such a time as this" like Esther was, but I felt it.
And I was thankful.