“Would you please take one for yourself and pass the rest down?”
Perplexed, yet desperate for sugar, I stared at the tanned, blonde woman who would be my neighbor for the next two hours on this Boeing 737.
“This one is for you,” she prompted, slowing her speech and over-emphasizing her words. “And these are for them.” I followed her gaze to the passengers on my left, in 13a and 13b.
I accepted the small ziploc snack packs and passed two as requested, stealing a quick glance to gauge 13a and 13b’s take on the unsolicited gifts. They appeared to be equally confused.
Is this a new “pay it forward” movement in kindness? A new type of plane etiquette, and opportunity to fail miserably on gift preparedness for flight neighbors? Is there religious red tape tied to these Tootsie Rolls that by eating one, I’m opting in unknowingly?
What’s the catch?
I set the snack pack on my lap, put my headphones on, and closed my eyes. Although the Tootsie Rolls sounded truly amazing after three days of an intense work trip, fatigue ultimately won out.
An hour and a half later, I began to recover. Stomach growls forced my eyes open and I removed my headphones. The entire plane was silent, peaceful; resting. Sigh. What a great group. Way to go, team! I silently cheered and applauded our group, Delta 664. No loud talkers. No videos without headphones. No apparent sleep apnea. No screaming baby.
Mmmm… something about Tootsie Roll’s… it came back to me. Fatigue finally acquiescing to curiosity, I decided to solve the snack pack mystery and peered inside the bag, only to find a note:
My name is Nicholas, I’m 3 weeks old and on your flight today! This is my first flight and I will try to be on my best behavior, but if I lose my cool, get scared or my ears hurt, I’d like to apologize in advance! My Mommy has packed a goody bag with ear plugs in case my first public serenade isn’t as enjoyable to you as it is to my Mommy!
Have a great flight!
I unrolled my first tootsie roll and thoughtfully considered this. No one genuinely wants to sit and listen to a crying baby; not even parents. But seriously, have we forgotten that at one point, we were all 3 weeks old? I mean, honestly. I tried to identify the feeling I had on her gesture. Of course, it was incredibly sweet and proactive, but wasn’t it incredibly ridiculous that this new mom should feel such an obligation to preserve the serenity of the flight as to attempt to preempt it? (on top of all the other travel prep?!)
5 tootsie rolls and 30 ADHD thoughts later, I decided to put this in the “Things Women Do, but Really Shouldn’t Have to” bucket.
Roughly half of the population is female, a huge proportion of those bear children, and children – especially infants – cry. Period. It’s how they communicate. I, myself, have been in this situation with Carly and felt the judgy stares insinuating that I didn’t pack the correct snacks, comforts or skills to prepare my daughter for 2 hours in their presence. Feelings of ineptitude for something that we have little control over.
Silently promising myself to meet Nicholas’s mom upon landing and offer to help deplane, my heart longed to reassure my fellow momma. Traveling with all the gear is a huge challenge, especially if traveling without another adult. She was doing great, and I would tell her so!
Seat back up and tray tables stowed, we parked at the gate and began to assemble our things. I spied a 30-ish woman in 14b gingerly attending to a giant car seat. Too much congestion between us, and not enough space, I jealously watched Delta Flight 664 ooh and ahh over sleeping Nicholas.
I smiled at the originator of the snack packs in 13d as we walked toward the jet bridge. “Is that your daughter? Niece?”
She shared that it was her longtime family friend who had just adopted little Nicholas. Momma had been staying at her home in Tampa during the waiting period before being allowed to leave the state and take her son home. The family had been waiting a long time for a baby. My heart nearly burst. I squeezed her hand. “It definitely takes a village. I would travel with you any day.”
First, thank you to my village. Y’all always lift me up, encourage me, and lend a hand. I am forever in your debt, and promise to do the same for our sisters (and brothers.)
To Nicolas’s momma: You will be incredible. You’ve totally got this sister.
And, thank you for the tootsie rolls.