Sunday, December 30, 2012

Everyday Heroes Hidden in Plain Sight ・Pt. 1

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I stumbled down the plane aisle trying not to betray my infrequent flier status. Did my eyes shifting back and forth while checking aisle and seat numbers betray my lack of nonchalance?

Confusion raised a nervous sweat on my forehead when I realized my seat was in the last row vs the middle of the plane. To make matters worse, I inconvenienced the young lady in the aisle seat to get to my window seat.

Hurricane Sandy bore down on us sending my flying nerves into pandemonium. I felt like a great white whale stuffed into a tuna can about to be dropped into the eye-wall of a hurricane.

The flying public is not overly chatty these days. So, I tried to figure out how to retrieve my book from below the forward seat given the one square inch of wiggle room afforded me.

Recognizing futility when I saw it, I sighed surrender and settled back to begin my prayers for arrival without aid of an airsickness bag. I gave a nervous glance at my seatmate expecting banal indifference. Trying to hide my startled reaction when her eyes met mine, I allowed a quick, "Nervous  and infrequent flier . . . ."

To my surprise, she gave a sigh of appreciation and said, "Oh, I know! Me too!"
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Rather than offering a begrudging acknowledgment of my plight and settling back with her own distractions, she drew me into an easy conversation. Had I any idea of the truth about her flying experience, I would have suspected her camaraderie was for my benefit only. Little did I know she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight.

We asked the polite questions strangers on planes ask. We commiserated with relief knowing each understood the other's anxiety. The flight promised to replicate an old wooden roller coaster if the weatherman could be trusted.

We talked about the book she was reading and how it resonated given her life experience. It was only natural for our conversation to turn to her family. When she spoke of her children, her face took on a glow  any company selling beauty products would die to reproduce.

In her early thirties, she held a newly minted MBA. Pride in her recent  achievement paled when she spoke of being mom to a tween and teen boy and girl. On top of an already busy life, she was a new foster mom. The pitter patter of tenderness punctuated her excited giggles as she told me the story of how the toddler came to be in her care.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
When our talk turned to specifics of her vocation, the truth began to slip out bit by bit. She too was traveling for business. A shy smile appeared when she explained. Rather than traveling for her primary employer, she was traveling as part of her military service.

During each leg of my trip, I was privileged to give up my place in line to a uniformed member of the armed services. Each time, the service person replied, "Are you sure?"

My adamant reply erupted, "If I could, I would do more!"

I shook my head in wonder to find  this amazing woman, young enough to be my daughter, was one of the ones I  been watchful for as I traveled. Dressed in street clothes, she would have vanished in the crowd but for our sharing cramped seats at the back of a plane.  Sometimes God pulls some sneaky ones, doesn't he?

"National  Guard?" I asked.  Her smile glowed again as she nodded an affirmation. The writer in me sat up like a dog begging for treats. You know me. I always need to know more.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
What about you fraidy cat? Have you ever met someone and known the meeting would change your life? I can't wait to tell you the rest of this story. When I'm done, I hope you'll join me in random acts of kindness.

See you tomorrow, and we'll get this party started, o.k.?

Hebrews 13:2 (NLT) 
Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 


  1. Beautiful post, Carol Anne! Thanks for the reminder to be more visible in my support of the military!

    1. It was such a simple thing to do to give up my pace in line and let the service person go first. Each of them acted shocked and hesitant to accept, but I insisted till they relented. I noticed than in 2 of the 3 occasions, the folks in front of me followed suit. Sadly, no one offered till I did. :-( I hope to change that with this post!

  2. I can't wait to hear the rest of the story!!

  3. I love this post! I want to know the rest too! I too express appreciation whenever I see someone from the Armed Forces. My children ask me why, and I am privileged to share with them about these heroes who defend the cause of freedom all over the world.

    1. We really need to be intentional about teaching or children to respect, with awe, service members. I am so glad you are setting the right tone for your kiddos!