The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.


When I get to 12D and place my bag in the carry-on space, a woman in her seventies is standing at 12B holding up her boarding pass for me to inspect. She’s 12E, my neighbor, I explain as I wave her over. She asks me to move her bag from the left side of the plane to the right where we will sit. She adjusts her head covering, her layers, her jacket, and her purse as she wanders toward me. As I wait for passengers to move through so I can lift her bag, four more elderly people show me their boarding passes. I’m not dressed like a flight attendant, but I am helpful in Turkish phrases. “You’re there, you’re by the front, and you need to go to the back.” Passengers smile at my compelled volunteerism.

Finally, after I have enough clearance to move my neighbor’s bag, I notice she has taken the window seat, rather than the center. I suspect the plane will be full, and indeed a young woman arrives for the window. My neighbor asks if she can please stay by there, “My girl,” she appeals, but Window Woman is firm. She paid for the seat and insists she will take her proper place. We move and re-arrange, my neighbor not interested in taking the aisle. I ask if she’d like me to put her coat above–it is hot in the plane already–but she wants to hold it. I help her with her seat belt. She kisses me on the cheek.

She is going to Istanbul for her mother’s funeral. Her mother was over ninety years old. I swoon appropriately and share my sympathy. At the end of the flight, I serve as a human shield, stepping into the aisle to stop the flow of impatient people from rows 13 and up who don’t understand how to disembark in an orderly and polite fashion. I make space for my neighbor and her suitcase. She calls me dear and glances sideways at Window Woman, who also cuts in front of me toward the exit. Such is rivalry; such is being the good neighbor.

—Flight from Izmir to Istanbul


9 comments on “Helpful

  1. judilyn
    December 2, 2015

    There is just no accounting for the rudeness of some people, i.e. Window Woman. I guess it gives them a psychological lift, but I’ll bet a little bit of the brain dies with each such negative event. How sorrowful for her. 😦

    Virtual hugs,


    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 3, 2015

      After I got the smooch from my lady, I looked over at Window. “See!” 😀 So we’re all just little kids anyway.
      Hope you have a great week. Hugs right back–

  2. joannerambling
    December 2, 2015

    Yeah some people get a buzz from being rude, and others like you get a buzz from being kind

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 3, 2015

      Jo-Anne, And when I don’t feel like I’m in the mood to be outgoing, I get conscripted. 😀
      Have a wonderful week, my friend–

  3. sweetexp
    December 3, 2015

    You Rock Paige!!!!! Keith Mobley; AKA Sweetexp from the TAMS.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 4, 2015

      Thank you Keith, can you email me? I have a gift for you! (


      • sweetexp
        December 4, 2015

        Sure thing, with gracious joy. Just starting my police work shift, so will be a few hours; Can’t wait until I am able to though.

      • thenicethingaboutstrangers
        December 6, 2015

        Excellent! Thank you! Take care of yourself out there, my friend.

  4. sweetexp
    December 6, 2015

    :))) Finally getting those two days off after I work tonight (Sunday). Oh y gosh, I admire your travels. I care about Budapest and Austria:)))))))))))! Go Paige!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on December 2, 2015 by in Travel, Turkey, Writing.

Buy “The NiceThing About Strangers”

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: