One Situation, Two Reactions: Where Do You Stand With Kindness?


I like to believe that despite what various news outlets and the narrative that the mainstream media tells us, people are inherently good. I choose to think that people will help others out if they can, that not everyone is consumed by greed and that people enjoy making others smile if they can. Sometimes I get told I am naive for thinking like this, sometimes I am proven right for thinking like this.

I saw a viral status on Facebook the other day that showed me both sides of the ‘humanity- good or bad?’ argument with such clarity that I had to write about it. I don’t know any of the people mentioned in this story personally, but what they went through really touched me.

I took screenshots of the post to give you context if you didn’t know about it already:

The first half of this made me so sad that I could have cried. Having taught Autistic children before, I know some of the stigma and misunderstandings that surround them. People think that because you can’t ‘see’ their difference that they are just naughty or that their parents are ‘bad’ parents. People judge before knowing and don’t respect the boundaries that need to be in place for an Autistic child to feel secure. A lot of people simply don’t bother to try and understand the needs of Autistic children, even when their family goes to so much effort to educate others and to ask for help. In this situation, the family’s request for special assistance had already been denied by the airline because the child could walk. In 2019 you would assume that people would have enough knowledge of disability to know that not all disability is visible, but that level of ignorance is still inexplicably there. That was one level of upset.

The second level was that a company could be so blinded by money that they pursued more money from a person over the most ridiculous of things. CEOs aren’t the people on the ground and have a reputation for being blinded by money, but the person on the desk who saw this woman’s struggle chose to make the choice that they did and to add to the family’s distress. They asked for money to board a doll on a flight as if it were hand luggage… a doll. In a person’s time of need where the child was already distressed, they chose to make a situation worse. For what gain? Financial? That money wouldn’t go to them anyway. It would like the pockets of the person in charge, allowing them to be more and more removed from the people their airline serves, the people they feel they can treat so poorly.

There are so many other ways I could delve into this post, so many other angles of annoyance I could direct at Ryanair and how it treat this family, but this blog isn’t called The Good In Every Day for nothing. As much as there is to be angry about, there is so much good to take from this. Ryanair have had enough airtime from me.

Looking at the flip side, this post gives me so much joy. It reminds me why I look at the world the way I do and shows me that so many others look at it in the same way too. This status shows us that there are kind, good people out there, lots of them, and it seems like a lot of them work for Jet2.

Jet2 is a rival airline yet it didn’t treat those customers as rivals. It saw people in need, a child in distress and a parent struggling. It saw the inhumane treatment that they had received and it offered help. The simple act of sitting on the floor with the child, getting down to his level and talking to him showed a level of care and respect that he deserved.

The flight attendant who spent her time calming down the boy knew that she could help and so she did. She recognised that for someone with Autism, flying might be a stressful situation, especially for someone who had just endured what he had, and so she talked to him, calmed him, treat him with the dignity and respect that he deserved.

For people with conditions like Autism, the world is scarier than we can ever imagine. Every day things that we see as ‘easy’ are not perceived in the same way by them. We must understand that. For their families, trips out never mind trips abroad require elaborate planning. They have to pay attention to details we don’t see, think of risks that we don’t even consider and look for triggers in all kinds of places. They have to brace themselves for the reactions of others who aren’t aware or educated enough about the condition, who might stare or comment or judge.

Sometimes things can’t be planned for. Sometimes on the day something happens that wasn’t foreseen. When that happens, it isn’t always plain sailing. An Autistic child might go into crisis because of it. That’s not a time for us to judge, but a time for us to offer assistance. If we can help, then as humans we must.

Imagine a world where people treat people like the Jet2 staff treat that boy and his family. A world where people see you’re struggling and help, where people lighten your load, where people treat you like people because that’s what we all are. Rich, poor, fat, thin, disabled, able bodied, well educated or illiterate – we are people. We all deserve to be treat that way. We are no better than anyone else. We all deserve kindness.

The next time you are faced with a choice to be human or to walk away, remember this story. Remember how two companies offering the same service reacted so very differently to the exact same situation. Remember how their actions impacted another persons’ life. Remember how you felt after reading about both types of treatment that the boy received. Remember how it felt when you read about one employee at one desk trying to get money from his family and another at the opposite desk sitting on the floor with him to talk to him. Think of the two sides, the two choices, the two kinds of people you can be and think – which side of the airport do I want to be on?

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