Monday, October 29, 2012

Pay It Forward

If you read my post outlining my hectic schedule over the next few weeks (or actually know me), you'd know that this weekend was my trip to Oregon to visit my brother with my parents. I'll gush about what an amazing weekend it was later, but first, and at top of mind today, is the story of how I almost didn't make it.

For the record - I am a notoriously horrific traveler when it comes to flying. No, I don't get motion sickness, or lose my bags, but any and everything that could possibly happen to my flights (delays, cancellations, reroutes, etc) happens to me consistently. Thus, it was no surprise that my flight from Denver to Portland was delayed over an hour on Friday night, giving me a whopping 5 minutes from wheels down until I was supposed to be boarding my flight to Eugene - the last one of the night. After hauling across the airport, I found myself just in time - hooray!

But wait. How could this be? That was far too easy, right? Wrong - upon getting to the gate I was informed that the plane was under weight restriction (baby planes, sigh), and barring some Good Samaritan giving up his or her seat, I was destined to stay in Portland until late the next morning. After adequately (but calmly) berating the gate agents and the airline in general, I stood tearfully at the window and watched as everyone else boarded my flight. No football game. Less than 24 hours with my family. All of these hours of travel wasted.

Suddenly, I heard the gate agent say (snobbishly) "What are they doing? They can't do that." Wondering what the fuss was about, I looked out onto the open-air runway to see a wife leading her husband as they charged off the plane. Upon re-entering the boarding area, all she said was, "She deserves to see her brother, she came all this way. Let her go, we'll stay behind."

Cue waterworks.

Major waterworks.

Needless to say I started sobbing and hugged the two of them (who were also in tears), and flew out the door onto the plane after thanking them profusely.

Spoiler alert - the weight restriction was a false alarm and my two saviors actually got on the plane as well. Good Karma.

Sitting on the plane to Eugene, I reflected back on the events at the gate. Why did they do that for me? They don't know me. They certainly don't know my family. Why would they put themselves out for a complete stranger? And then, suddenly, I understood why I had been crying so hard - because I hadn't experience that kind of pure and simple kindness from a stranger in a very long time. I was crying from a real place - the same place that their good deed had come from.

Needless to say I had a wonderful weekend with my family (details to come later), and the whole time I couldn't help but feel grateful to this anonymous couple who did me one gigantic kindess.

Ok, ok, I can squeeze in one picture!

Why share this story instead of all of the details about my trip today? Well, because with Sandy taking aim to terrorize over a quarter of the country, I can think of no better time to inspire others with this story, and to encourage everyone who has been touched by an act of kindess to pay it forward to those in need.


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