Written by: F/A Patricia Pineda Santos
Six years in the industry and I have seen quite a lot. I have encountered unforgettable ones like a wedding proposal and an experience with a passenger who wanted to travel alone before she gets the result from her Doctor if she has cancer or not. I've had newly wed couples, excited children, OFWs excited to return home, and prisoners on board. So you see, we get to fly and interact with all kinds of passengers.
Part of the job is to be vigilant. We have to pay attention to all our passengers which makes things quite interesting because we have passengers of all kinds.
However in one of my flights, there was one lady that stood out. As I did my 360 cabin check where I make sure all passengers are compliant with the safety regulations before take off, I noticed one lady who was crying looking out the window. This scene is not very new to us. It's usually those sad moments for passengers who are sad to be leaving home. It's a somehow common occurrence but it does pinch our heart every single time.
During meal service, I went at the back and passed by her row, noticing that she’s still crying silently. When it was their turn to receive the snacks, she was still crying. I handed her snack and she just got it quietly. I then reached out to her again and handed her a handful of tissues with an empathetic smile on my face hoping that she feels a little bit comforted. She smiled a little this time.
Meal service was done, trash collection was done, but she was still silently crying looking out her window. I’ve seen a lot of crying and somehow it did bother me that she did not stop at all. I felt like I needed to do something. The lady is travelling alone and has no one with her. So here’s what I did: it was a coffee, tea, water service only for the passengers in the economy section but I prepared a glass of orange juice for her hoping it would help.
I accompanied the orange juice with a short note that says:
The sun may set but it shall rise again tomorrow. In your short time with us, may we have comforted your heart even just for a bit."
I handed the orange juice along with the note to her however, she still kept crying.
During deplaning, the passenger let others go ahead of her making sure she was the last to deplane. She then approached me and said, “Thank you for the orange juice and the letter.” Not wanting to cross the line and as a sign of respect to our passengers, I hesitated to ask why she was crying and just said, “You’re welcome ma’am.”
She then said, “You know why I’m crying? My son just died.” She then burst to tears.
I was speechless. I was not able to hold back my tears. She showed me some pictures of her 4 year old son. Yes, 4 years old. I could not contain it. I gave her some comforting words and held her hands and she just kept thanking me.
When I prepared that juice, when I wrote the letter, did I ever imagine that her son died that’s why she was crying? No. It was an innocent move on my part, just wanting to cheer her up. This is why I want to share this story with all of you. Our small gestures make an impact on people’s lives. Something ordinary to us may be extraordinary to others. We don’t know what everyone is going through or the struggles we are individually facing. A little smile, extra kindness and some niceness might go a long way for hearts that are breaking.
Life is too short to not show our 'buong pusong alaga' to everyone. We only have a few minutes or hours to make an impact on a stranger’s life and I want that flight to be an unforgettable one for them.
When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave them wondering how you did it”. -Mitch Griego