2013 Christmas Challenge: Day #19…A Seat for a Hero

While You Were Sleeping is one of my all-time favorite chick-flicks.  There’s one scene in particular that I absolutely love.

Here’s the CliffsNotes version…

Peter Callaghan (played by Peter Gallagher) finally regains consciousness after an accident and Lucy (played by Sandra Bullock) is trying to help him remember his life.

Lucy: You give up your seat every day in the train.

Peter: Well…but that’s not heroic.

Lucy: It is to the person who sits in it.

I was finally headed home.  After being away for a few days on a business trip, I was more than ready to be back with my family.  Just like one of my other favorite movies explains, “There’s no place like home.”

I boarded the plane and quickly got settled into my seat; it was a packed flight.  Great.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and no one will sit in the middle seat.”  The woman in my row had her fingers crossed.

Most of the passengers had taken their seats and it seemed we were indeed in the lucky row–I was seated next to the window, the other woman was next to the aisle, and in between us was still an empty seat.

But then at the last second another young woman came rushing down the aisle–she almost missed the flight.

I couldn’t believe it…it was Sarah Chalke!!! 

OK…not really, but I swear she looked JUST LIKE her.  So, for the sake of this story, let’s just call her Sarah.

“Hi!  I’m in the middle seat.  I’m going to drop off my bag and I’ll be back after I run to the restroom.”

Sarah was frantic, but obviously so relieved that she made the flight in time.

Then for whatever reason, I thought about the line from While You Were Sleeping and got an idea.  I told the woman in the aisle seat that I was going to surprise Sarah and trade seats with her.

The other woman looked at me like I was crazy.  “Why in the world would you do that??!!  No one wants to sit in the middle seat!”


I quickly explained my 30 day kindness challenge and then, Sarah was back.

Kindness helped me meet a hero.

Kindness helped me meet a hero.

“Would you prefer the window seat?  I’d be happy to switch with you.”

Sarah: “Wow!  That would be awesome!  Why–do the two of you know each other?”

She also assumed I must have had some big reason to give up my seat.  It’s funny how people are surprised by kindness–even very small gestures.

The other woman was ready to bust: “You have to tell her about your challenge!  It’s the coolest idea ever…tell her!”

So I quickly explained.

“I love that idea.  I’m sure it inspires people to pay it forward and do something nice for someone else….I know I will.”

And honestly, hearing Sarah just say that statement would have more than made my day.

But it got better.

The three of us women kept talking.  I normally stay pretty quiet on planes, but after discussing the kindness challenge, now we seemed to be bonded and became fast friends.

We started talking about all the normal stuff: where are you from, what do you do…

And then I learned about Sarah.

Sarah’s from California but is now stationed at Wright Patt–she’s in the Air Force.  In February she’ll be serving in Afghanistan for six months.

I’m a crier by nature–I can’t help it.  I had to look away, the tears were starting to fill in my eyes.

I was so incredibly happy that I gave this woman my seat.

Here I was thinking that I was making a sacrifice so she could be comfortable…not knowing that she was going to be making a huge sacrifice for our country.

I started thinking about how different this flight would have been if I had stayed in my original seat.  I probably would have slept the entire time.  I would have missed out meeting Sarah.  I wouldn’t have had the chance to thank her for her service.

Today I was able to do something nice for a real life hero.  And this is what I love about kindness–when you take the time to think about others, amazing things happen.

One thought on “2013 Christmas Challenge: Day #19…A Seat for a Hero

  1. “Yeah, that’s my daughter, the one asking the flight attendant to take her picture!”

    If I taught you ANYTHING in life, always have a camera with you. You continue to amaze me, Kelly. That was one of the simplest, yet hardest things you’ve done yet. Middle seat, UGH! But look what you made of it, a lasting impression on those around you and a story these two ladies will share over their Christmas holiday. I love you for that.

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