Apr 26, 2013

Kindness of Strangers Part 2

Several days after the last post, two bombs detonated 12 seconds apart near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon. Its aftermath shocked the world with news that trail even until today. Like many other acts of terrorism, the world is never again a same place after such tragedies and we can only pray for the innocent souls of those lost fighting against it.
The Boston bombings stirred up a mixed feeling inside me. I went to Boston twice and loved the city for her charm and history. In fact, last summer I spent nearly an hour at Copley Square, the main venue of the bombings. It definitely sent a chill down my spine to recall the beautiful afternoon now.
On my flight back from Boston last summer, I chance to sit next to a Vietnamese American working as a firefighter in Boston. He was what you'd call a typical American jock - extremely muscular, wears deodorant, and packs bags of snacks up the flight "because airline meal portions are so small". Amidst his confident physique, I can tell this is his first time on a flight - right after settling in he began to fiddle with the reading lights, seat pockets, coat hanger, and tray table. It was a brand new Boeing 787 (they are still airworthy back then) with sophisticated seats. After his 10-minute inspection he sighed "they thought about everything, didn't they?"
I helped him with his earphones as airlines use a two-pronged jack instead of the regular iPod one-pronged jack. Then he started talking to me about his family of two boys and her wife. "Aren't they the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?" showing off their pictures on his iPhone.
"Where are you heading to?" I asked.
"Vietnam. Hanoi to be exact. I'm visiting my sister whom I haven't seen for 7 years. She doesn't know I'm coming."
"Must be a very nice surprise then."
"Yeah, I called her husband to pick me up from the airport."
"How long is the entire journey?"
"Eerm...almost 24 hours I guess. I leave Boston at 11 am and arrives in Hanoi before midnight local time."
He later requested a beer to which the Japan Airlines stewardess replied "do you want Kirin, Suntory, or Asahi?" (all Japanese brands) We stared at each other and back at Ms. Nakagawa with a blank face. She later gave us 3 cans each to sample. I hope they didn't run out by the end of the 13-hour flight.
He was a nice seatmate who offered me plenty of snacks throughout the flight while I helped him with the touchscreen television. I regretted not taking down his name although I am bad with names. Even if I did I'd forget them right after I collected my baggage or leave the airport.
A few days after the bomb incident he suddenly came back in my mind. As a Boston firefighter he is almost certain to be involved in the series of explosions or the rescue efforts later. I saw the pictures of the casualties and was relieved he wasn't one of them. I hope he and his beautiful family are well, and that they get to visit Vietnam again soon, together.
For most people a bomb going off somewhere might not affect you at all. For others it means a loss of a parent, child, or loved one. If we believe in love, we must remember that no human being have the right to end another's life. They are loved and so are you.