In my wallet I carry a small tattered business card that was given to me by a stranger on a plane.
Four years ago I traveling for Christmas and hating being squished on the planes with all the hordes of people traveling for the holiday. I died inside when I saw the looks of those who discovered they were sitting next to the fat lady and was mortified at having to ask for a seatbelt extension.
The last leg of the trip was on one of those little bitty planes the size of a bug with very little room for any carry on luggage and I almost had a meltdown when I discovered that my computer case wouldn’t fit under the seat. It was the last straw on a very long day of a trip that was stressful in the first place.
A gentle voice across the aisle said, “you can put that over here” and indicated the space in front of her seat where there was more room, and that’s where it lived for the duration of the flight. I simmered and fretted in my seat and was basically miserable as well as uncomfortable.
As we were leaving the plane, the woman across the aisle reached over and pressed a small card into my hand, smiled, and wished me a merry Christmas. In the busyness of deplaning, I just put the card into my pocket. But when I read it later, I stopped in my tracks and started to cry. It said:
“There is kindness. There is love. There is beauty. You are all of these things. Merry Christmas! (the redhead on the plane)”
She didn’t know me and we never spoke other than those few words, but her kindness to me and the words she gave me out of the blue were a grace that touched me then and now. The card is still in my wallet and it reminds me, not of humiliation and embarassment, but of grace and compassion. I never told anyone about this random act of kindness but it mattered and I’ve tried to pass it on.