24 September 2016

Turbulence At 32,000 Feet

Matthew 5: 16

I know of a man who had quite an eye-opening experience recently.

This man was traveling by plane to a family event by himself.

Being the last man onto the plane, he traversed almost the entire length of the aircraft to arrive at his seat near the very back; a favored window seat.

This man prefers the window seat to an isle seat, or any other seat.

The window seat satisfies his curious eye, allowing him to gaze out onto God's extensive fields on long boring flights.

The view from above is a rare sight, and this man doesn't like to miss anything, being known to take pictures and videos of odd and amazing scenes alike from a plane's window.

Arriving to his seat's location, the man notices another man sitting in the isle seat in his row.

The man also notices a young boy, about ten years of age, sitting in the middle seat.

No one likes the middle seat.

While getting situated, the man notices the child making an effort to peer past him and out the small plane window at what is going on outside.

The man recalls how as a child the window seat made life easy for his mother, keeping him preoccupied and entertained while looking out the window.

The man asks the boy if he would like to trade seats with him.

The boy doesn't respond, but nods his head in a fashion unfamiliar to the man; not a yes 'up and down' and not a no 'side to side'.

The man asks again, this time using hand gestures asking the question with simple words.

Same silent response and unfamiliar gesture.

The man mentions something to the man sitting in the isle seat who is observing the exchange.

He tells the man about how he always preferred the window seat as a child, and figures this young boy would also like that preference.

Both men share a brief chuckle while the boy remains silent and likely unaware of what is being said.

Prior to the plane taking off, the man uses his electronic device in the hope of translating the message to the boy in the boy's language.

The man makes a guess and shows the boy a Google search result for "Cambodia", and asks the child if he speaks Cambodian.

The child corrects the man's guess by responding with "Nepali."

The man then looks up and shows the boy the translation of "would you like to trade seats so you can look out the window?" in Nepali.

The boy gestures that he cannot read Nepali.

The man tries again to convey the offer, now attempting to read the message phonetically, in a form of Nepali all his own.

The man is clueless as he attempts to read a language whose words he has never heard pronounced out-loud.

The boy is simply sitting there watching the man speak yet another foreign (possibly nonexistent) language to him.

The man is trying his best at pronouncing the words correctly and he thinks he recognizes a word that looks like the word for "seat", and repeats that word along with gestures.

The message is eventually understood by the boy and a yes response is realized.

The switch is made.

The boy begins to gaze out the window and seems quite amused, placing his hands on the plexiglass as he takes in the entire experience. (there is an outer glass window, some space, and an inner plexiglass window)

The man is happy.

After a short time passes, a woman walks up and reaches past the two men in order to hand the little boy a cup of water.

The man realizes the child wasn't traveling alone after all as he initially thought, but that his party is sitting elsewhere and they were all unable to sit together.

After the woman takes her seat, the man turns around to capture her attention and motions to her, asking with his hands if she'd like to switch seats with him.

She herself turns around and flags down a stewardess instead.

The man explains to the stewardess his idea of trading seats with the woman so she and her relative (the boy) can sit together.

The stewardess says that most likely the woman would rather stay where she is with the other relatives.

The woman has an isle seat, but at the very back row which most likely does not recline.

The man thinks maybe she would rather have a non-reclining isle seat than a middle seat that reclines, but he thinks that's just his thinking, most likely not what she is thinking at all.

After some time, the snack cart rolls by and the boy points to a sizable package of mixed chips.

The man seems unable or perhaps unwilling to explain to the boy that those chips do come at a cost; not the free smaller portions of snacks passed out to everyone.

But it seems the man already had in mind what he was going to do.

Without hesitation, the man asks for the chips and also orders a premium drink for himself while also asking about one of the sandwiches on the menu.

The stewardess hands over the chips, takes the drink order and notifies the man that unfortunately all the sandwiches have already been purchased.

He then asks about a cheese and cracker item on the menu.

She says only the snack items are left, that cheese and cracker item also having been sold out.

She also apologizes stating that the airline company, in attempting to reduce the amount of food items that go unpurchased, limits the amount of menu items on any given flight.

People sitting in the back of the plane sometimes have a limited selection to choose from since some items are sold out by the time the cart arrives to the back of the plane..

She suggests contacting corporate if this is an inconvenience.

The man, half jokingly, asks if he can be recompensed in some fashion for this inconvenience.

She says she usually does not comply with such requests, but obliges with a smile and says the drink will be free.

The man happily thanks her, surprised that his request was positively answered.

Moments later, she realizes the purchased snack bag was for the child and asks if the child is his.

He says no, but that the snack was what the child wanted and so he complied.

She then exclaims that the act of kindness was very nice of him, adding that she would like to offer him the drink for free.

When the other flight attendants arrive, she loudly expresses her joy from the small act of kindness the man had offered the boy.

It seems the flight attendants also noticed the man had given his window seat to the little boy.

After a few more words of praise from the stewardess who had taken the order, she promises to grant more items, complimentary, in response to the kindness.

By now the man is very surprised, looks humbled and seems a bit embarrassed, not expecting and quite shocked at such a response and flood of gifts from the stewardess.

He thanks the stewardess for her kindness.

She brings the man several more premium drinks, two more snack items from the menu (one of which he requests the boy to receive), and the gentleman sitting in the isle seat also receives several premium drinks and a snack box.

The entire row is quite happy and content.

One of the stewardesses, the one who was called over when the man asked to trade seats with the boy's relative, stops by to ask if the man has children of his own, to which he replies “not yet”.

She smiles and continues on her way.

After some time, the man sitting in the middle seat asks the man sitting in the isle seat for an opportunity to make his way past him so he can use the lavatory.

The stewardess who asked the question about having children of his own, seemingly impressed with the man, asks to speak to him when he is up walking to use the washroom.

She calls him aside, asks him where he is from and introduces herself.

But this man is a married man, faithful to his God and also to his queen; his wife.

His response is overheard by the stewardess who asked if the boy was his child.

The man's response was brief and courteous, yet plain and professional... and he quickly says “nice to meet you” and makes his exit.

The interested stewardess did not seem too excited after hearing such a brief response from the man that didn't reciprocate her enthusiasm and interest.

In the man's heart, the man is realizing how, what seems to him as a simple and seemingly insignificant act of kindness, can bring his Father much glory in ways he couldn't initially understand.

He also realizes how such acts, while surprisingly may beckon praise from strangers, can easily cause a man's pride and arrogance to cloud his better judgment.

The man understands he did not 'do' any 'good thing' in order to win anyone's praises or admiration, but simply followed what his heart was guiding him to do.

The man quietly returns to his seat after using the restroom.

The man sits in his middle seat, praising the Lord in his heart while also praying for all people around him once again.

After a short while, two gentlemen sitting next to each other, begin a conversation that weaves in and out of politics, religion, war, culture, self perceptions and self denials.

The four hour flight-time dissipates into mere moments as a new friendship is struck between these two prior strangers.

The boy had fallen asleep for the rest of the flight.

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