Yesterday I was able share my flight home with several young people who were on their way to Navy boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval station.
After joking with the young men around me about one of their friends frantically working through his memorization work before hitting the base the next morning we all settled in for our flight.
An uneventful flight with the young husband next to me focusing his entire being into committing his 11 orders to memory. Then something interesting occurred.
A well dressed and confident young women exited the first class cabin carrying a plate with a single cookie on it. She approached another young woman who was sitting across the aisle from me, who had been writing various thoughts into a journal and focusing on her music of choice on her iPod. It was obvious my neighbor was taken aback to be approached on the flight. The only part of the exchange I overheard was – “I have extra and I thought you would like one too.” There were some head nods, a smile, a thank you, and then an awkward departure back to the first class cabin was hastily made.
My neighbor sat there looking at her cookie and thinking to herself for a minute or two. Then she tore it in half and politely excused herself by me to offer her half of the cookie to the young husband on my right. He thanked her and was appreciative of her offer and acknowledged he knew her. He did not look at the half of cookie for long as he’s a 19 year old young man. He ate it quickly and then returned to his memorization efforts, but with a friendly smile on his face.
I am not equipped to make a social statement or even provide insights into the thoughts of our millennial generation. I can share what I saw and what I took away from this brief exchange between 3 Navy recruits.
I saw 3 young adults beginning to figure out who they are and beginning to build a small network of support (friendship) before their lives change forever. Their exchange made me stop and recognize – one small act – the sharing of a simple cookie has provided these 3 recruits with a connection point which may grow into a support network in the coming weeks or it could simply end right there as a simple act of kindness in the moment as they were all preparing in their own way for the adventures which awaited them.
Either way those 3 young people shared their kindness with each other as they prepared for a life changing event.
As the aging man sitting next to them I am smiling inside and I know these young people will emerge as leaders. As soon as the young husband finishes memorizing his orders…