My flight to Dallas on Friday restored my faith in the human race. Well, ok, that's a little strong, but my opinion of the kindness of strangers is back on terra firma at the top of the cliff, rather than halfway (or more) to the bottom. After the plane pulled back from the gate and taxied out to the runway and just before we hit the gas to speed up and take off, a passenger in first class was discovered to be "non-responsive." The flight attendant requested the help of any medical personnel on the plane and 5 people quickly responded. With only concern and none of that obvious "I'm cool" desire for personal glory evident on their faces, they made their way to the front of the plane. A bit later, the attendant asked if anyone was diabetic and willing to part with one of those sugar testing dealies. A sweet senior citizen came forward with that. We went back to the gate, where the official airport paramedics met the plane (the flight attendant having immediately made the necessary page). The stricken passenger, who had apparently had a seizure but was by then responsive, walked off with the paramedics, and a "clean-up crew" got on board to do their thing (a thing I and, I imagine, my fellow passengers tried not to think too hard about).
But here's what improved my opinion of humanity. During the delay, which all in all took an hour, not one person exhibited impatience. There was a general air of concern for the ill passenger and a general quiet on the plane. No restiveness, no grumbling. A few people took out their cell phones and calmly inquired about the possibility of rebooking their connecting flights. When it was all resolved and the flight attendants reappeared, all sorts of people congratulated them on their calm, compassionate competence.
A lot of the evidence of daily life seems to suggest that people have become utterly self-centered with no consideration at all for their fellow human beings. But here was a plane full of people who behaved, despite the delay, as if they had no thought whatsoever other than compassion for a stranger. The all-for-one mood lasted, too. Without being asked, those of us staying in Dallas stood aside and let the people trying to make connections disembark first. The connecting people were demonstrably grateful and still not pushy. Nearly everyone thanked the flight crew warmly on their way out. It was the best example I've seen in a long time of people putting themselves in someone else's shoes, gaining perspective, and realizing that some things are more important than others. Really quite uplifting. Reassuring, too.