Kindness is Infectious
This short story is contributed by PUGSOM student Kumarendran Balachandran.
Today someone learnt about PUGSOM.
As we lined up to check in, Greg and I discussed how successful one must be to be able to afford flying first class.
Just then the passenger ahead of us began abusing the helpless flight attendant checking him in. It was all Tamil to me but the harshness and anger were unmistakable. The lady at the counter had a trembling quiver in her voice as she fumbled with her microphone to beseech her manager for assistance.
“Don’t give him the power to make you feel sad. Have a nice evening,” were the inadequate words I scrapped together as she checked me in. She smiled wryly, eyes downcast.
“Enjoy the brownie on the flight. It smells tasty,” said Greg while we rushed up the escalator after an unceremoniously gobbled McDonald’s meal. With ten minutes to last call we struggled to drag our poorly exercised legs to make it in time. But I had one last stop. “Where are you off to?” Greg asked as I made a sharp turn to the check-in counter. The lady we’d seen bedraggled a few minutes ago had just finished checking in a couple of passengers.
“Did you miss your flight?” she asked as soon as she saw me at the counter.
“No, not yet,” I said. Her anxious eyebrows settled.
“This is for you,”, I held out my hand, clutching the brownies. Chocolate happiness. “Let now be when your nice evening begins.”
“For me?” The incredulous words tumbled from her lips.
“Yes,” I nodded. “I better get running now, I really want to be on that flight.”
“Wait please! Can you tell me your name and company?” she said, as the queue of people waited and watched our exchange.
I scribbled on the scrap of paper she rummaged out of her drawer. “Kumar, PUGSOM”, was what I wrote.
As I gave way to the disgruntled man in the queue, I saw her smiling for the first time that evening.
An hour later, airborne, I am holding a cup of hot chocolate I didn’t order.
The outside says “For Kumar, PUGSOM”.
Niceness is infectious. When you go around holding doors open despite running late to class, singing songs to make someone’s day, and making multiple trips to the airport just to send off a friend, I guess being extra nice becomes a habit. When I step off the flight tonight my mum will ask me what was taught and learned at PUGSOM this week. I’ll show her this note.
P/S: To fellow colleagues of mine at PUGSOM, who give me the opportunities to question, to be kind, and to make mistakes — thank you. And to Jason, for the kindness and sensitivity that I don’t usually come across very often.