My 9-year-old daughter and I were flying from our home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to spend a week with my husband in Miami, Florida. Mike had been in Florida for five months working for an Internet start-up company. We were excited about the trip because we had seen him only five times in five months, and Kallie missed her dad terribly.
As usual on the Charlotte-to-Miami flight, the plane was totally full. I had noticed a troop of Boy Scouts at the gate and commented to my daughter that if anything happened, we would be OK with all those Scouts on our flight! Little did I know....
Because we did not get our boarding passes until we arrived at the gate, Kallie and I could not get seats together and were separated by the aisle. That wasn't such a big deal, except that Kallie was nervous about the trip and had counted on my reading to her the whole way. Trying to read across the aisle would be a challenge.
When the two passengers who shared my row boarded the plane, I asked if they would switch places with Kallie and me, so that we could be together and so that she could sit next to the window. They refused, saying they thought they should stay in their assigned seats. Meanwhile, a mother and her three children were in a panic several rows ahead of us. There had been a mistake in their boarding passes, the whole family had been split up.
The passengers in her row also refused to move elsewhere. The mother could hold her baby, but her 6-year-old son and his older brother had been scattered around the plane. She was very concerned about the younger boy sitting with strangers. She was in tears, yet nobody offered to help her.
Suddenly the Scout leader stood up and said, "Ma'am, I think we can help you." He then spent five minutes rearranging his group so that adequate space was available for the family. The boys followed his directions cheerfully and without complaint, and the mother's relief was obvious.
Kallie, however, was beginning to panic at the thought of not being next to a window or her mother. I told her that there wasn't anything I could do; we would have to sit where we were. Amazingly, the man sitting next to the Scoutmaster (not a Scout himself), turned around to me and asked, "Would you and your daughter like our seats?" referring to himself and the Scoutmaster. He said he was cramped in the window seat and would really prefer the aisle. We traded seats and continued our trip, very much relieved to be together and watch the scenery from Kallie's window seat.
Would that man have offered us his seat if the Scouts hadn't done so for the mom and her children? I don't know. But I do know that kindness is contagious, and good deeds beget good deeds!