Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the anti-BLOW OFF: the kindness of strangers

As I write this, I have just washed down a beet salad, plate of risotto, and three mini desserts with a glass of champagne...while sitting in my comfortably reclined seat in first class. I can't afford to be sitting in this seat, but I am due to the kindness of the man sitting in the first class cabin all by his lonesome. I already gushed about him on Facebook, but I think this bears repeating. The fiance and I were boarding our Virgin America flight from Orlando back to LAX after visiting his parents for a relaxing weekend. Upgrading to first class would have cost us $270 each and even though we are both impulse spenders, we weren't about to pay that much on top of our normal fares.

As we're boarding, I point out all the empty seats in first class (only one occupied by our future benefactor) and mention that they should make upgrades less expensive so people would actually splurge on better seats. The flight attendant tries to convince us it's not too late to upgrade and I joke that we will if he can give us a good deal or if we can share one seat the whole way home. We end up in our seats in coach and within a few minutes, that flight attendant comes back and tells us he has good news: a passenger, and he can't tell us who, just paid for our upgrades to first. Apparently, he didn't want to be all alone in first class. Everyone on the plane gasped. We were completely speechless. Maybe the polite thing to do would have been to say we couldn't accept his gift, but instead we grabbed our things as quickly as possible, headed to first, and thanked our new best friend as profusely as possible. He just smiled and said he had nothing to do with it (wink, wink.)

I decided to write about this, because A. I love my life, but this kind of stuff doesn't happen to me. And B. It got me thinking of the kindness of strangers. When we think of "blow offs" we think of big things, like a break up or getting fired from a job...but how many little blow offs do we all experience (or do we all cause) throughout our day? Maybe something as small as not letting someone into your lane or not saying "thank you" when a person holds the door open for you. Just prior to boarding the plane, I was pretty much astonished by how friendly and accommodating the airport employee was at our gate. She actually seemed happy to be dealing with people. My degree of straight up confusion regarding her sweet demeanor made me realize: we're not nice enough to each other. What our friend in first class did completely blew me away, but we don't have to be wealthy to show our generosity to strangers. The little anti-BLOW OFFs go a long way. (and trust me, the big ones do too!)

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