Years ago, I was on a short flight headed back home from visiting a friend. It wasn’t a terribly long flight, but about halfway through I dozed off.
I awoke to feel the seats shaking and shuddering.
I was alarmed for a moment, until I noticed two kids barreling up and down the aisle. The little nuisances were about 8 or 9 and were running into people, into seats and being very loud.
As this was going on, a boy around the same age was sitting directly in front of me with his dad. He had been watching the spectacle from the sidelines.
After a few moments, he looked up at his dad with longing and said “Please, dad? Please can I go run up and down the aisles?” His dad gently told him no and tried to distract him.
As the boy had asked, a flight attendant had been walking past and finally asked the mischievous kids to go sit in their seats.
Half an hour later, we were getting very close to our destination. The flight attendant, who had been walking past, stopped at the row in front of me and addressed the little boy.
“Excuse me, sir.” she said, “We’re approaching our final descent pretty soon here and I may need some help- would it be alright with your dad if you came and helped us out?”
The boy lit up like a Christmas tree! His dad chuckled and nodded and the son jumped out of his seat and followed the flight attendant.
A few minutes later, he came walking down the aisle with a big trash bag and, very politely, he stopped at every single row.
“Hello ma’am, do you have anything you’d like to dispose of?” he said to each of us in turn. It probably took him four times as long to collect the waste as the flight attendants, but he was so excited to be helping out!
After he finished, he followed the flight attendant to the front of the plane, and I didn’t see him for about five minutes.
Suddenly, he leaped back into his seat and started talking a mile a minute.
“DAD! They let me look in the cockpit and I said hi to the pilots! REAL PILOTS!! Dad! They were flying the plane!! And they gave me this [a little airplane pin], AND they gave me this bag that has CANDY IN IT!!! And she said I was the best helper she’d ever had! She said that!”
He went on and on about it for the rest of the flight, but the best part was when we landed. The captain gave the welcome speech and said, “You may now use your mobile devices.”
Before the intercom speech had ended, the boy in front of me started squealing, “Dad! Call mom! I gotta tell mom! Quick! DAAAD!!!”
The dad dialed and handed him the cell phone.
The first words out of the boy’s mouth when his mom picked up?
“Mom! I’m gonna be a pilot!”