In a recent cross-county trip to see my brother, I saw and experienced several acts of kindness that I am hoping are signs of good things changing in the country.
Over the last few years, I feel like political division, a pandemic and the economy have created some bitter, angry citizens. This means seeing more fighting, angry groups and less kindness in public.
In flying recently, I was brought to tears a few times. Or, maybe, close to tears is a better way to describe it.
I was traveling with my children who are now 6, 8 and 17. No husband on this trip. I was a parent flying solo and that is tough any time.
Due to a lengthy drive from my brother’s home and to save on some costs on my rental car — I had to go to the airport extremely early, meaning my 6 a.m. flight from Newark to Denver meant almost all night in the airport.
I had no idea how much Newark worked to prevent sleeping in the airport. Chairs are screwed down, big metal bars prevent you from stretching out on other chairs. The floor does not have carpet. There may as well have been signs say, “Do not try to rest here.”
Anyway, it was what it was. My kids and I were going to tough it out. However, after about an hour of us trying to find ways to get comfortable — just picture a 17-year trying to sit cross-legged, backwards in a chair against the wall — it was not going well.
Then, a man who worked at the airport came through. He did not speak English but shook his head as he walked by me. The pessimistic side of me figured I was being judged as a not-so-good mom having my kids there.
Instead, he pulled out a key, went into a storage room and came out carrying four cots. He gave each of my kids a cot, a blanket and a pillow. He got one for me and encouraged me with his hand gestures to get some rest as well.
When my kids seemed overwhelmed with his gesture and thanked him with their tired voices — I was brought to tears.
I am a true believer that most people are good. I just love having that belief reaffirmed in a strange place.
Once on the plane, I saw another act of kindness that was not aimed at me but still mattered.
An older woman who also did not speak English took her seat next to my son and myself. Come to find out, she was not in the right seat. However, my Spanish has gone way downhill since living in Arizona and the flight attendant struggled.
Before long, a man in a nearby seat came over and helped translate, easing the woman’s stress and alleviating a tough situation.
On the news, I have heard reports of families being separated from their children on flights. This happened to me as well. My son and daughter were put in a different row, and I sat with my 6-year-old separately.
I trusted my 17-year-old to manage my 8-year-old (praying they would not argue over some nonsense). I wasn’t happy but did not raise a stink with the airline.
After the flight, my daughter told me a nice woman sitting near them opened her arms and allowed my son to sleep against her, telling my daughter his comfort mattered to her.
I hope this is a sign that we are getting better. I hope these instances can become regular again as we travel or go about our daily lives.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.