We had just finished thirteen miles of hiking in the Smokey Mountains. We were tired and our muscles ached as we made our way back to New England. The cramped car ride to the airport followed by a two hour flight left our legs in worse condition than they were when we first came off the mountain we just climbed.
When I heard that two seats in first class on our next flight were available for a small upgrade fee, I jumped at the opportunity. We agreed to blow our budgets and paid the fee to upgrade our tickets. Our spirits lifted immediately. At least we would end our adventure in comfort and style.
Our travel has always been arranged on a budget, so flying first class was a new experience for us. As we boarded the plane, we felt as if we were part of an elite group. We took our seats and were happy to join the other few passengers who could fly in such luxury. It was almost as if we had a sense of pride to be sitting with the group of people that surrounded us.
As we chatted away about hiking, waterfalls and bears, I could hear people around us talking about busy schedules and business meetings. It wasn't long before I realized that these people were accustomed to flying in luxury. They are important people I thought to myself.
We noticed that the stewardess was working non-stop to ensure the comfort of the first class passengers. She could not walk by a seat without receiving an order. I thought about how much she must love her job as she smiled kindly at each person while attending to their needs.
As the stewardess walked by our seats near the end of the flight, I looked at her and said, "Thank you and I hope you have a great night". She stopped at our seats with a look of disbelief on her face, bent down, looked at me and said, "Excuse me". I repeated my words and she smiled in a rather funny way, almost as if I had asked her a question that she did not know how to answer.
After a few moments the stewardess walked back to our seats. She asked us what company we were traveling for. "I can tell you work with the public," she said. "Why do you think so?" I asked. She answered very quietly " because you are the only passenger here to say thank you or stop to say something nice to me tonight and I really appreciate your kindness."
The sense of belonging to the elite group of people in first class disappeared as we heard her words. Our seats in luxury offered us more than a comfortable ride. We were reminded that without kindness, we would be flying in no class.