I usually keep to myself or my accompanying friends when riding the bus, chapa-cem, metro, airplane, etc. But with a baby on my lap, everyone is spontaneously chatty. “How old is your baby? My granddaughter is two. Yesterday she started potty training.” Smile and nod. “My sister is pregnant.” Oh, that’s nice. From a little kid, pointing to the baby’s head, “What’s that red spot?” Hemangioma. From the guy on the plane today – “I have four kids. I feel your pain.” Do I look like I’m in pain? From a kind lady as I exit the airplane restroom carrying my two-year-old – “It makes me tired looking at you.” Maybe I need to work on my public appearance.
Today I flew on a plane with my two dear babies. They are comfortable on airplanes and enjoy the close one-on-one time with mommy. As I stated, I don’t usually freely converse when crowded in transport with strangers, but the kids bring it on. There’s the occasional whiner – “Can’t you make your baby stop kicking my seat?!” – but usually fellow passengers just want to talk about how cute and fun kids are and offer assistance when needed. Case in point, when traveling without my husband I have never failed to receive an offer from another passenger to carry the car seat off the plane. Today’s flight was no different, with several passengers eager to assist me. From the first time I stepped out my door in Germany and headed to the train station with my one-month-old a couple years ago, I have found this to be the case.
People are not only congenial, but those you would least suspect turn out to be downright helpful and considerate. That Generation Z kid with his head phones on? He rushes to hold the door as I approach the doorway of the train terminal pushing the stroller. As I wait in the tight crowd of passengers to board the train, I have no less than four offers of assistance from all types of people. The hurried man in the business suit? He stoops to lift the wheels of my stroller up the three steep steps and onto the train. People with whom I would normally have no interaction suddenly have become an essential part of my travel team. These strangers become less of a stereotype and more of just another normal person, like me, willing to assist another traveler on their journey.