A long story cut short: my delayed flight from Denver to San Francisco was causing me to miss my flight from San Francisco to Auckland. After almost succumbing to tears (it was a fiasco), Frontier finally footed the bill, took the responsibility, and paid for a hotel, meals, and our flight 24 hours later to New Zealand from San Fran. I’m fighting a cold, my cough sounds like I could be spreading a disease of sorts, and I was tired already from travelling most of the day. I sat down next to the lady, Sharon, who was also missing her flight to NZ. This happened to be on the handicap seating area.
An elderly, petite Asian man in a burlap hat and a nice sweater- collared shirt combo pulled his bags up next to me and sat down. I immediately felt guilty being very able bodied and in the handicap seat. He arranged his things and pulled out a white paper Quiznos bag. He then from that bag handed me a smaller paper bag, I took it and felt a recently toasted bagel inside.
“Do you want me to hold this for you?” I asked. He responded in a different language, pointed at the bagel then to me and the bagel again. He turned to his bag to retrieve another bagel, which he promptly started to prepare with the little tub of cream cheese and a black plastic knife.
“Is this for me?” I asked in confusion, I’d never seen this dainty man before in my life. He just pointed at me and the bagel and made what I took as affirmative gestures. He then handed me another black plastic knife. I hesitated as he ate. I hadn’t had dinner. Would it be rude to not eat the bagel he had just given me? Would it be worse to eat a bagel I was only supposed to hold? Was it poisoned? (No, there was no way. But I did entertain that thought briefly.) I decided I could buy another bagel is need be but I should indulge this nice man. He smiled as I started eating.
We sat there in silence. The buzz around me seemed to subside. My stress and tension temporarily left. It was so simple, this gift of a bagel. Touching to be the one to commune with this gentle man. It was a blessing on a day where things weren’t going my way.
As I finished my bagel, I had crumbs sprinkled across my lap. I dusted them off and placed my knife and cream cheese in the bag to throw away. I thanked the man repeatedly, maybe my efforts were futile, but maybe they weren’t. I had no way to find out anything about him or his plans. But that made it all the better. Wordlessly we shared a meal. It was a gift that transcended circumstance and language.