Rule # 83: Be thankful for crying babies on planes
I recently was on a red eye flight from San Diego to Chicago on my way back home to Pennsylvania. I was expecting a nice quiet flight after what had been a long couple days of meetings. I was in first class so I knew I would have the opportunity to stretch-out in the big comfy seat, put on an inflight movie and fall to sleep.
While I waited for the flight to board I noticed a young woman alone,traveling with a very young baby girl. I thought,
” that’s weird to be traveling this late, I feel sorry for the coach passengers that have to sit beside her”.
I was smug I my certainty that the burden would fall the coach passengers while I slept soundly in my row 2 seat after sipping my nite cap.
Boarding with the other first class passengers I waited for the window seat passenger to arrive, and watch in horror that the woman with the baby was going to be my seatmate for the 4 1/2 hr flight. I was upset.
But then a saw it…the glares and scows of the people in the cabin with me, looking at this woman in that same..” what the hell” stare. And I realize this was not a burden or bad thing, it was a gift from God.
How often do we get given the opportunity to be kind to someone in need, to be a protector of someone who is vulnerable. I decided at that moment not to be the asshole but to embrace the experience and put myself not only in the place of that mother but that baby. A baby who was tried and scared, and likely did not want to be sitting next to a 55 year old fat man who she did not know. It must have been terrifying for her.
I told the woman I had 6 kids and to relax and nothing would bother me. She seemed releaved.
Each time the baby fussed and cried I tried not to react at all, but just offer help. I saw the light from the backseat video monitor was keeping her up, and turned it off. I was placed there for a reason, my purpose was to make this trip a little less uncomfortable and a little less stressful for that baby.
I think life gives us opportunities to be the ‘good guy”, the champion of others and we pass them by not realizing that the gift is to us not to the person we are helping. By helping we do very little for that person and get back a great deal more for your soul. You are given the gift of purpose.
Don’t get me wrong I’m like everyone else an asshole at heart. If I had not by fate or happenstance been seated next to this mother and child, I would have likely been one of those people glaring and complaining in a hush to my seatmate. Basically we get lots more chances to be assholes than to be champions. I miss most of my opportunities while I’m in a rush to get somewhere else.
Crying babies are one of those things that can not be ignored. They won’t go away no matter how many distasteful looks they are given. When you hear one don’t think of it as a problem but as a reminder that we have a common purpose on this earth, to help each other survive.
I think that there are fewer champions in the world because many of the people in distress are taught to keep their problems to themselves. I think the champions are out there, but they have lost the ability to hear the cries of the damsels in distress and forgotten how to help. Babies crying on a plane helps wake up those hidden instincts.
I also like the fact that the Babies will not be able to thank you or remember any kindness. We don’t expect it of course, but I think they remind us through their inability to respond that its about us defining who we are and not them thanking us. Its the baby who is giving the gift, we are the one’s who should be grateful.
Not looking the act for what we can get out of it, but understanding how an act can defined us is key. Babies are easy…but learning that skill and applying to be people you work with, live with or maybe just know from some social forum is the real skill. We can change the people lives we help at those moments, but we change ourselves a great deal more.
Look for the crying babies….and thank them.