A woman named Shanell got on a plane from Florida to Philadelphia. She dreaded the following hours of flight, because she was with her daughter, and her daughter has autism.
She hoped that a kind and patient person would sit next to her, but she couldn’t even dream what could happen. Next to her on the plane, sat a businessman called Eric.
Her daughter began referring to Eric, a man whom she’d never met, as “Daddy.” She was fascinated with him, and kept reaching for him. He didn’t smile politely and ignore the girl. Eric put away his paperwork and talked to and entertained her for the entire flight.
Shanell went home and wrote a blog post titled “Dear ‘Daddy’ in seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly.” Here’s a touching excerpt:
“You walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your multi-million-dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held. You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that ‘smile’ that I despise because it means; ‘manage your child please.’ You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored by you that she keep eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about.”
Her blog post quickly went viral. Eric couldn’t believe his simple act of kindness garnered so much attention. He didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but as Shanell says, “Sometimes the simplest things are such a big deal. But it’s a big deal for him to treat her like a little person.”