Boomerang

I sat in the uncomfortable terminal chairs, slowly chipping away at my nail polish. I gently blew away the loose fragments, and picked at it some more. A man’s deep voice echoed above me, “Flight 669, service to New York will now be boarding, please have your boarding passes out and ready, along with a valid form of I.D., we will now begin boarding our blue ticket passengers, and our business class… Thank you, have a wonderful afternoon.” he said in one fluid breath. I twisted my wrist to see the surface of my watch. An hour left until my flight boarded. God, I hated layovers.

As if it wasn’t horrible enough that I couldn’t find a direct flight from Huston to New York, the three hour wait I had in the middle of nowhere was the cherry ontop. I shifted in my seat, and took a book out of my carry on, and read for what seemed like forever. The man announced “Okay, that would be the last of our C Group. This is the last boarding call. Last boarding call.” I began to read again when a lady at the ticketing desk shouted out, “Andrew Putnam? Is there an Andrew Putnam here?” she said in a commanding voice. I looked up and a young guy, probably mid-twenties stood up. He was wearing a pinstriped lavender shirt, and navy suit combo. He had a soft face, that was easy on the eyes. He raised his hand ever so slightly and said, “That’s me.”

The woman replied, “Okay honey, your on stand-by for this flight and I have one seat left. You want it?” Andrew straightened his shoulders and said, “I’m only going if he can too.” He pointed to an older man, sporting a bald head and round glasses. The woman replied, “Well, I only have one seat.” Andrew looked like the type of person who had somewhere to go. Maybe to head to a party to go to a business meeting. Maybe his mother was sick and dying, and he was going to see her. Maybe he was going to propose to his girlfriend in a nice candle lit French restaurant. Maybe Andrew was running away from his life. But whatever he had to do, his friend was more important. He furrowed his brow, “Okay, then I’ll wait. Give my spot to him.” I smiled. Touched by the type of person who would do that for his friend.

I watched Andrew begin to walk back to the rows of seats. I expected his friend to give him a hug, or thank him, or at least nod his head. But Andrew just walked by him, passing him completely. He didn’t even make eye contact with him. That was when I realized that he had just given up his seat to a complete stranger. An hour later the woman called out over the speakerphone, “Flight 286, also service to New York will now be boarding, please have your boarding passes out and ready. We will now begin boarding our blue ticket passengers, including our business class… Thanks for being with us.” I stood up and got in line, Andrew’s head just peeking out atop of everyone else’s in line. I recalled the man with the round glasses rushing to get his stuff together, and running
onto the previous plane, only a half hour ago, oblivious of how lucky he was to have someone that loved him enough to sacrifice something important..


I woke up right when we hit the ground. Due to my unfortunately late check in, I was in the very last row of the plane, stuck behind all the traffic. When the pilot turned the fasten seatbelt sign off, everyone immediately stood up, retrieving their carry-ons from the overhead bins. I just sat and picked at my nail polish some more, waiting for the congestion to clear. I suppose more time had passed then I expected, because when I looked ahead of me, there were only a few stragglers exiting the plane. I unbuckled my seatbelt and got out of my seat. I stood on my tip toes and reached to the overhead bin and pulled my mid-sized black bag down. I brought it to the floor with a clunk when a voice behind me said, “You okay there?” with a laugh. I turned to my left to see Andrew Putnam standing next to me. “Yeah,” I chuckled, “I’m fine.” He smiled, “Great.” He continued up the narrow path of the aisle on the airplane. I silently followed him out of and into the terminal, staring at the ground the whole time.

Once we entered the airport, I looked up at the signs, and realized I needed to head left. Andrew began to turn right. I don’t know what came over me but, as we began to turn separate directions, apart of me couldn’t let him go without asking. I turned around and grabbed his shoulder, “Hey, your name is Andrew right?” Taking a slight step back he suspiciously replied, “Yeah…how did you know that?” I continued, “I saw you in the Huston airport. I saw what you did for that guy. You gave up your seat. Did you even know him?” He scratched the tip of his hairline and smiled, “No, uhm, no I didn’t know him.” I felt my mouth drop open a little, “Then why did you do it?” He shifted his weight from foot to foot, and I continued, “Why would you do that for a stranger?” He looked at the floor, and then slowly raised his face up to me, shrugging his shoulders, “Why not? My grandmother always used to say, kindness is a boomerang, it always comes back.” he said with a laugh. I nodded my head. “That’s really awesome. It was a pleasure to meet you Andrew.”

“Nice to meet you too.” he replied. I continued on my way, heading to baggage claim. I walked a few yards and then looked over my shoulder, and Andrew was gone. He had disappeared into the crowd, just another face in the world. People would pass him by, just like he passed by that man, who he had done something so nice for. I looked down at the wheels of my suitcase, gliding so swiftly across the floor. I looked at the zippers of my bag, and noticed the tiniest white mark sticking out in between them. I stopped to look at it, and realized it was a small piece of paper with a phone number on it, and a small sketch of a boomerang in the bottom lefthand corner. I laughed and turned in a complete circle, feeling like he was still close by.

I whipped my phone out of my pocket, and dialed the number. I shifted my body out of the way several times, due to the heavy flow of people coming off flights. They all gave me a blank stare, and wondered what I was doing standing in the middle of an airport terminal. A soft voice answered, “So, since I have a lay over, I was thinking we could grab coffee or something.” I smiled broadly, “I think I could do that. Where’s the nearest coffee place?” No reply. I asked again, “Where should I meet you?” Andrew’s breathing was soft and gentle, like he had time to kill. He answered, “Look around.” I turned my shoulder, and there was Andrew Putnam, sitting in the chairs of the gate in front of me, holding two lattes, and balancing the phone to his ear. “So, what’d you say?” I took a step towards him, “I say, sure.”

Perhaps Andrew had done something kind for me that very day, and I was unaware of it. Just like the man in the airport terminal didn’t know, and just like people in the future would never know that someone really cared about them. I didn’t realize it, but that boomerang was coming toward me. Full speed, quick as the wind, so fast, I could barley see it.





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