Picture this, I’m sitting on an airplane only two hours into a ten-hour flight…
I’m in my own head pondering the greater questions of life, like bowtie pasta or oven roasted chicken because the flight attendant is quickly approaching. I need to be prepared for our interaction because heaven forbid I shatter my confident, cool, persona by stuttering at her question.
I’m ready. It’s going to be the bowtie pasta. I’m going to confidently say “Bowtie pasta, please.” She’s then going to tell all the other flight attendants about that cool, confident, world traveler in seat 23D.
Just as I had made my decision, I realize that the attractive young man next to me is speaking to me! I whip my head to the side and open my eyes really big and come back with a loud, “HUH?” (Yeah I know, cool and confident). He repeats himself and it hits me like a sack of bricks. He is speaking Spanish!!!
Oh no, oh no, not yet. I’m prepared for this. I am supposed to take the remainder of my flight to practice Spanish in my head under imaginary circumstances, not with an actual Human Being!
Well this time he knows I heard him, so I come back quick with a “Lo siento” which only encourages him… He now thinks that I can speak Spanish (if you know me this is especially comical because my Spanish is two degrees north of terrible).
He goes off speaking a mile a minute. It’s at that moment I know my cool persona is about to be blown. A combination of the baffled look on my face and the fact that I have not responded to any part of his conversation must have been a dead give away because suddenly he stops speaking. We both just stare at each other confused. A sweet voice over my other shoulder says “He is asking you how to use the controller on your arm rest.”
I turn and realized the woman next to me is bilingual (#blessed). She is now acting as my translator! After she explained that I was learning and my Spanish was not very good, we all laughed.
They both spend the next hour speaking a very basic and slow Spanish with me. They encourage me and very nicely correct my mistakes. For what I imagine is the equivalent of speaking with a toddler for them, they are so patient!
As it turns out they both are originally from Spain and they warmly welcomed me to the country well before we landed. Their kindness was comforting and appreciated as I prepared to move halfway around the world for a year.
A little kindness goes a long way, especially when someone is far from home.
The world awaits…discover it.