I was tired. I woke up very early that morning to catch a flight from my hometown, Tacloban City, which is just a small city, to the largest city in my country just to process some papers and then to head back home where my two daughters were waiting for me. I left them with their grandparents and I knew they were okay. But all I wanted to do was to get out of that noisy city and into my peaceful home where love and a hot meal and warm bed were waiting for me.

And so it was that as I learned that my plane was late, my patience was getting thin. I sat at the waiting area with the other passengers getting all grumpier. So I decided to get something to eat. When I went back to take a seat after having a small snack, I noticed an old woman all by herself, with a few luggage surrounding her lap, the seat next to her and her feet. Hand carry, I mused. Ah, typical for her age. Most of the passengers were a lot younger than her, including me, and all had their eyes on their phones. I guessed then that she doesn’t have one as her generation didn’t have the technology that we all have now. In passing, I thought, Poor grandma, she has nothing to while away time while she waits.

Eventually, our plane arrived and we boarded. The plane was full and, unfortunately for me, I got a middle seat. Who wants a middle seat on planes, anyway? Not me. I tried to bear it out as the plane started to taxi down the runway. I squeezed myself as little as possible. Providentially, the one sitting on my right was a small, old woman. It was then that I remembered her as the same lady who was sitting all alone with all her luggage around her. Well, the hand-carried ones.

On the plane, I was bored. Since I was tired, I should have taken a few winks. But the flight was short. I could always sleep at home on a welcoming bed, and not squeezed between two strangers.

On short flights, there is usually no need for all the extra entertainment and meals served on longer flights. I could read. But I had already read all the reading materials provided on the plane this morning. I was left with nothing to do but talk to my seat mates. I usually don’t talk to strangers, but there was no alternative but get bored. So I thought, why not? The person on my right was fast snoring. Grandma on my left, though, looked nervous.

I started my best imitation of a Daytime Talk Show host ala Oprah or Kris A. on grandma. Poor grandma, she didn’t know what was coming. I started off by asking her if it was her first time to fly, thinking that maybe it’d help her take her mind off of flying. She hesitantly answered me, looking at me strangely, like, maybe, thinking I’m lost. 

As I asked her question after question, like, do you have children? How many? Do you have grandchildren? Where do they live? Grandma grew more bewildered. She didn’t know how to make of me, but politely answered my questions. Before long, she got used to it that it looked like we were having a real conversation: me, asking; her, replying.

However, I soon found myself getting worried--- for real--- about her. I was worried about who will pick her up from the airport because by the time our plane would land, it would be quite dark and she lives little farther away from the city. She assured me that some relative, a son-in-law or something, would be picking her up.

Flight attendants were passing out menu cards to those who wanted to have some snacks while in flight. I was hungry so I decided to have some. I didn’t have much money as I had to be careful with every expense that I make because I wasn’t earning at that time, but I thought that it would be little to offer to pay for a little meal for my Talk Show guest. 

When I made the offer, I could see in her face that she was delightfully surprise, but I thought that since the gesture was very simple it didn’t mean much. Until we finished eating. 

The remnants of the meal were cleaned up and we were getting ready to land, and I was thinking that it wasn’t such a bad flight after all. I genuinely had a great time. I glanced at my new friend and saw her contemplating. She must have been debating in her mind whether to turn the tables on me--- ask me a question this time--- because she kept glancing at me, smiling. Curiosity won. 

Or it must be her way of saying thank you. She asked, “What’s your last name?” I told her and asked, “Why?” She answered, “I can’t recognize your name but I am wondering if you’re a political candidate in the coming elections.” I was baffled. “N-no…” I stammered in confusion. “I- I am just an ordinary person.” 

“Oh.” She looked a little bit disappointed. (Or maybe it was just my active imagination?) Then she smiled, “Because, I was thinking that, if you are, you have my vote.”

I laughed. She laughed. And we knew that totally capped an ordinary flight that turned memorable.

Most of us only see kindness as motivation behind some ulterior motives that when we see the real one, we are in disbelief. I didn’t intend to do a kindness that day, but out of boredom found a way to a more exciting moment while whiling away time. Maybe, if we are more kind intentionally, then there may not be as many bored people as there are now. And maybe, we won’t only attribute kindness to politicians.

I think it’s time to do more intentional random acts of kindness and surprise others and even ourselves. Then life will be worth enjoying. And sharing.

"Be kind to one another." (Ephesians 4:32)

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