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The saving grace of a stranger on a plane

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

It’s a situation both parents and (some) non-parents dread: an unruly child on a flight. Is it annoying as a passenger just looking for peace and quiet? Sure. But now that I’m a parent, I try to take a more sympathetic approach and so did Todd Walker of Lenexa, Kansas.

He became the seat-mate of a toddler who was having a rough go of her day, but he was able to show grace in this situation. It started when Jessica Rudeen had to fly with her toddler and baby alone. She always plans ahead, but nothing can prepare you for a day when both children are feeling “off.”

“The baby was hungry, he’d been up since 4:30 a.m., my daughter lost her nerve and started screaming ‘I want to get off the plane, I want to go’,” Rudeen explained to FOX 4 in Kansas City.

With a stiff upper lip, Rudeen boarded the flight. That’s where she met Walker.

“The next thing I saw was a mom looking around the corner at me with big eyes and two kids in tow that were both having a bad day, both screaming,” Walker said.

But rather than roll his eyes, give deep, passive-aggressive sighs, or change seats, Walker embraced the mess.

“When he reached for Alexander it was just a huge feeling of relief,” Rudeen said.

“She was able to get Caroline strapped in and then I handed the baby back and she was able to give him a bottle and start feeding him which helped a little bit and within a couple minutes they were fine,” Walker said.

He spent the flight observing things out of the plane window and coloring with Caroline. Rudeen was amazed and grateful for the help. Then, they both realized that they were on the same connecting flight, too. The kindness continued.

“After the first flight, he helped us off the plane, he helped open up the stroller, put the car seat in the stroller, and then he just kind of took the lead and led us to the next gate,” Rudeen said.

“I changed my seat at sat with them and made new friends,” Walker said.

“I could have been placed next to anybody and the fact that I was placed next to someone who is so selfless, I mean, so giving and so generous with his time it’s just… I have no words for it really,” Rudeen said.

Walker doesn’t think it’s a big deal. He says it’s easier to help someone than you think.

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