Have you ever been in public and overheard another person’s conversation? Perhaps they were talking too loudly and wanted to be noticed or get other people’s attention. Sometimes people like to be seen and heard. Other times we overhear just enough to know that we should step in and get involved. That’s what writer Jenny Brown of Spotlight experienced when she was on a flight recently.
After putting her carry-on luggage away, Jenny watched as a line of soldiers boarded the plane. She decided to start a conversation and get to know the men in uniform a bit. She learned they were headed to Petawawa. After two weeks of training, they would be “deployed to Afghanistan.” She was impressed when they told her a bit about the “special training” and how they would go overseas to fight in the name of America.
The conversation stopped, and Jenny focused on her book. Then the flight attendants started going around offering a bagged lunch for $5. And that’s when Jenny overheard something she wasn’t supposed to.
“I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. ‘No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn’t be worth five bucks. I’ll wait till we get to base.’”
The other soldier agreed. They’d rather go hungry than shell out five dollars for food mid-flight.
Jenny decided then and there that it was her duty to help these soldiers.
“I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. ‘Take a lunch to all those soldiers.’ She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears. She thanked me. ‘My son was a soldier in Iraq. It’s almost like you are doing it for him.’”
Jenny knew that buying the soldiers lunch was the right thing to do. She did it without hesitation. But she didn’t realize her act of kindness would also touch the attendant in the way it did.
A few minutes later, the flight attendant carted ten lunches over to Jenny and the soldiers. Before giving the soldiers the coach-class lunches, the flight attendant asked Jenny if she liked chicken or beef. After handing out the bagged lunch, she went to first class and grabbed Jenny the luxury meal for free – because she was generous with the soldiers.
When the lunch was done, Jenny returned to the back of the plane, and a man stopped her at the restroom door.
“I saw what you did,” he said. “I want to be part of it. Here, take this.”
He gave Jenny twenty-five dollars.
When Jenny went back to her seat, she watched the captain walking down the aisle looking at the numbers. He stopped at her seat. And asked to shake her hand.
He said, “I was a soldier, and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.”
Jenny touched the hearts of so many people because she did the generous thing.
Another passenger shoved twenty-five dollars at Jenny. Then when she was leaving, another person gave her twenty-five. She saw the soldiers preparing to leave for the base. She gave them the $75 “for a sandwich.”
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