My flight from Odessa, Ukraine to Tel Aviv actually was quite amazing and reminded me exactly why I have been craving a trip back to Israel for so long. It is a heartwarming story that I think well describes the comradery between the people here in Israel. It also was a realization for me that you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover.
My story starts in the Odessa International Airport I was sitting waiting for my plane and I noticed this Israeli hipster who was being lectured by a Ukrainian Border Patrol Officer about why it was not OK for him to ride his skateboard inside the small airport terminal. I thought to myself “man I hope I don’t have to sit next to this idiot on the airplane”.
Soon it became time to board and I slowly made my way to my assigned seat in the back of the aircraft. After everyone had boarded to my surprise the Israeli hipster was now arguing with the flight attendant about moving seats to a slightly better seat in the back of the aircraft. She actually told him no but he just moved anyway. She looked extremely annoyed and stormed away.
As the plane accelerated for takeoff I felt someone grab the seat behind me frantically. She released her grasp for a few minutes until we hit a small amount of turbulence and then she grabbed again but this time gripping my arms from behind. I knew it was a girl because of her nails and she was obviously scared. She was crying and through her sobs she said “iz-vee-NEE-tye” which is Russian for “I’m sorry”. I tried to comfort her and said “Its okay don’t worry. Everything is going to be fine.” I could tell she had no clue what I was saying because she must not speak much English. Then I noticed the Israeli hipster from the terminal once again switch his seat to sit with her. I thought oh great now this idiot is going to harass this already scared girl. Instead, I noticed him comforting her throughout the flight and when the flight was over he did not ask her for her number or make any advances on her.
At sometime during the flight I had to use the bathroom however I was in a window seat so I had to ask the man next to me if I could get get up. I said first “Excuse me” in English and he didn’t acknowledge me. So I then I told him “Sorry I don’t speak Hebrew” in Hebrew… he asked me “Do you speak Russian” in Russian. I told him “no”. He then says “So you only speak English?” seeming kind of offended. I said “Yes I am from America”. He says “Oh I am sorry I thought you were Israeli and just being difficult.” Then he quickly got up and let me through. We made some small talk together when I got back but nothing major.
A short time later the flight landed and again the girl behind me frantically grabbed the seat. I tried to lean forward to give her the ability to get a good grip. As the flight landed we all clapped as is customary when a flight lands here in Israel. The man next to me quickly called his wife and I could hear him speaking a mix of both Hebrew and Russian. After his call he turns to me and says “You said your going to Tel Aviv, this will be about a $50 taxi ride. I just spoke to my wife and we can drop you off at your apartment if you would like.” I politely declined his offer for the sake of safety but I really was amazed by his willingness to help me.
I must say both the man next to me offering me a ride home and the hipster with the skateboard have really reminded me of the comradery that exists in this country.
Have you ever experienced extreme kindness while traveling? Share your story in the comments below!