Friday, December 16, 2011

The Airplane Flight

Special Note to all Readers:

This was one of the first stories I shared on this blog.  I was asked to re-share it this month because many thought it was appropriate for the upcoming holiday travel season.  I hope it is worth re-sharing. 

John Hollingsworth placed his carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment and sat down in his seat.  He knew it was going to be a long flight and was glad he brought along a book to read between his planned naps.  Just prior to take-off, a group of young soldiers walked down the aisle and sat in the seats surrounding him.  John leaned over and asked a young man across the aisle, "Where are you guys headed?"
"Petawawa.  We'll be training there for a few weeks; then we ship off to Afghanistan after the first of the year."

About an hour into the flight, a flight attendant came on the PA and announced that snack lunches were available for five dollars for anyone who wished to purchase one.  Since the flight would take several hours, John decided to purchase one just to help pass the time.  As he leaned forward to retrieve his wallet from his back pocket, he heard one of the young soldiers in front of him ask his buddy, "Are you going to get a snack lunch?"
"Naw, $5 is a lot of money just for snacks.  I'll wait till we get to the base tonight to eat."
"Yeah, that’s what I think,” said his friend.

John stood up and walked towards the rear of the plane.  When he got to the galley he handed one of the flight attendants a fifty dollar bill and said, "Please give all ten soldiers on board a snack lunch."
She grabbed his arm, squeezed it tight and said, "Thanks.  My son was in the Army; he served in Iraq."

John returned to his seat and began to read his book.  Soon the flight attendant, with ten snack lunches in her arms, began handing out the snack lunches to all the soldiers on board.  Rather than return to the galley, she headed up the aisle.  Several minutes later, the same flight attendant walked up to John, leaned forward and whispered quietly in his ear, "Which would you prefer - beef or chicken?"
What?  "Beef or Chicken?"  Chicken I guess he replied, as he wondered why the heck she wanted to know.  
A few minutes later she returned with a dinner plate from first class.  "This is for you … courtesy of the Captain."

After his meal, John walked to the back of the plane, heading for the restroom.  A man seated near the galley stopped him and said, "I heard what you told the attendant and, with your permission, I'd like to chip in," and he handed John a twenty dollar bill.

Not long after John returned to his seat, the Captain walked down the aisle.  When he arrived at John’s row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, "I wanted to shake your hand, Mr. Hollingsworth."  Quickly John unfastened his seatbelt, stood up and shook the Captain's hand.  With a booming voice, the Captain said, "I was once a military pilot and when I was young, lonely and broke, someone bought me a lunch when I was traveling home for Christmas.  It was an act of kindness I've never forgotten."  Then the Captain placed a folded twenty dollar bill in John's shirt pocket and said, "Put this toward my share."  As the Captain walked away, John was embarrassed as the passengers nearby erupted into a loud applause.

An hour or so later, just to stretch his legs, John walked toward the front of the plane.  A man seated near the magazine rack reached out to shake John's hand.  When he finished shaking John's hand, a twenty dollar bill was neatly folded and left in John's palm.

When the plane finally touched down several hours later, John began to gather his belongings and head for the door.  Waiting just outside the plane's door was an elderly lady obviously well off, and when John stepped through the door, she put something in his shirt pocket, then turned and walked away.  She never said a word. When John looked in his pocket, there was crisp fifty dollar bill.

As he entered the terminal area, John saw all the young soldiers gathering over in one corner of the terminal for their trip to their new base.  John walked over, handed one of them the $110 and said, "It might take you guys some time to reach base tonight and you might get hungry - Merry Christmas!"

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!