He fell face first into the aisle.
Grasping at the arm rests he pulled himself up, sweaty and swaying, he tried to get up. I dropped the lemonade I was pouring and rushed to his side.
I tried my best to support him, wrapping my arms around his waist I could feel his panicked breathing. He kept trying to walk and kept falling, his head narrowly missing the metal cart, I tried to guide him to a seat.
But he was so determined. Clawing at each seat, one time accidentally grabbing a passengers’ bald head for support he made it to the lavatory where he quickly rushed in and locked the door.
I stood there staring at the lock, knowing how to unlock it from the outside I thought about this man who was taking shelter in the bathroom.
Shifting my weight in my heels… I waited.
Finally out of desperation and a very small tinge of fear for his health I knocked and yelled out to see if he was alright.
He unlocked the door and came out.
He explained that he was on his first flight in the States after his military tour in Afghanistan and was going home to see his family for 5 days before heading back. He apologized for scaring us and assured me it was only a panic attack.
Only a panic attack….
There were still small beads of sweat on his brow as I listened to him talk. He asked permission to stand up for a little while and as I handed him some water there was a small crack of a smile.
After a few minutes of chatting he headed to his seat and I headed back to my little perch in the back galley. I sat there and held my water bottle thinking about this young man, barely older than I am that had, I’m sure, seen unthinkable things. This young man that was risking his life every single day and being psychologically damaged for my right to work and pray and live a free life. Being a Flight Attendant has exposed me to so many different cultures and an unbelievable amount of countries, all of this makes you realize how truly lucky you are to be an American. Of course there are other wonderful countries and I’m not discounting them though I do have a slight bias to America 😉 But may we never take our rights for granted.
With all of the hate in the world, all of the hurtful posts on Facebook, the shootings that don’t make the news, the shootings that do make the news and the senseless killings in cities that I frequent often, may we never ever take for granted each day that we live and breathe in freedom. We get so wrapped up in the politics and the controversy and while important I think we fail to remember how beautiful this nation is. Do we as a country fail over and over? Of course.
But please remember that somewhere in a plane in a small, cramped and smelly lavatory there was a man who was willing to risk it all for you. For your ability to post on Facebook, for your ability to live your life in any way you want to. Please remember that and please show love no matter what because everyone is fighting their own secret battle.