A letter from a stranger on the plane

A stranger on a plane wrote us a letter.

I remember watching her furiously scribbling on scrap paper and napkins, but I had no idea those notes were for us…


We were all on a flight home to California from Virginia. Five long hours together on an airplane. She was travelling alone, we had two one-year-olds. Two little sock monkeys (it was Halloween!) who recently learned how to walk. Thank goodness we made it all in one piece! (Or, rather… four whole pieces?)


In anticipation of the trip, I made “snack packs” for those whose fate would put their well-beings at risk by being seated next to us (AKA our future surrounding passengers).

The little baggies included a peace offering note, a few pieces of candy, and earplugs (wrapped in plastic wrap). Not knowing how many to prepare, we prepared 24 bags. We ended up using about half for the flight to VA, half for the flight home.


The passengers appreciated the treats and a stewardess even told us that she had never seen that happen in her 24 years of flying.

One of our lucky neighboring passengers was Janet. Janet was very kind and overjoyed when she saw us bring the boys onto the plane. She even offered to watch one of the boys should we need the break from them during the flight.

A stranger. A complete stranger.


Janet is the mother of 30-year-old twins and truly understood the endeavor we were about to embark on. She understood the struggle, the battles. She’d been there and holy moly, she’d survived.

Whether it was that twin parent connection, the kindness of her heart, or even boredom, her gesture was so sweet. As you’ll see below (I type out the entire note in case you’re interested), her hand-written note was genuine, thoughtful, imaginative, and entertaining. The second part was borderline cheesy, but you know what? How many people these days would do such a thing for a complete stranger? Are random acts of kindness overrated these days?


Janet, the stranger, handed us her note all folded up at the end of the flight. She told us it was just a little “sugar” since it was Halloween that day, but not sugar meant for the boys. The “sugar” was for us.

Puzzled, but tickled by the small token, I took the folded note and threw it in my purse.

It was a while before we made it out of the plane, found our bags, and journeyed home. We put the boys to bed, spent time catching up with my mom and sister, who picked us up from the airport, and finally I got the chance to read the letter.


Not going to lie, I cried. Just a little. I was so touched and so warmed by Janet’s words. I had no idea what she was writing back on the plane and it turns out she was writing for us.

She didn’t have to. She could have slept or ignored us or simply enjoyed her ride home. But now her kindness and thoughtfulness will forever stay with me and we now have such an awesome memory to share with the boys.

The most important lesson I learned that day, was to always remember how important it is to foster the boys’ creativity and imagination, especially in an age of TV, smartphones, and computers. I honestly do not think I could tell a story as creative and full of fantasy the way Janet did… but I certainly hope I will get better at it with lots of practice!

Here is what Janet’s note read in case you are interested (and want to read YOUR little ones a bedtime story!).

~ A letter from a stranger ~

“Trick??? Or Treat??? For the parents of the royal sock monkey magicians! With gratitude and smiles! Happy Halloween!”

Part 1:

October 31, 2014
Memorable flight
Washington DC to Sacramento

You two are the most delightful parents I have met in a long time! And your kids are the *cutest* Sock Monkeys on the planet right now!!
When I got your Halloween note with earplug instructions and candy… I felt the joy of a flash mob! Creative kindness, humour… may the world be as kind and surround you with joy always!
…And may you continue to travel and show them the world!
…And may your joy always be double!!!

Part 2:

October 31, 2014
30,000 ft altitude?

Bedtime story… (for the parents!)
There were once two Sock Monkey Magicians from Sacramento, California. They were so gifted at their jobs as Sock Monkey Magicians that, for example, one day they were on a great journey with their King and Queen in the kingdom of what is now called “Washington DC.”
While there, the Sock Monkey Magicians were tasked with making people smile while the Royalty went about their business (which was important, serious business, but the Sock Monkey antics made people think it was Monkey Business!).
One day the kingdom was raided by alligators (seriously!) and the King and Queen got very homesick (well maybe not “very). But the Sock Monkey Magicians thought up a plan to get the King and Queen away from the nasty Kingdom of Alligators and alleviate their distress. The Sock Monkeys ushered the Royal Couple (along with many towns people) into a giant metal can.
Then they performed some secret ritual and the Great Can MAGICIALLY became a bird and flew and flew and flew them all magically home!!!
The Sock Monkeys were then knighted.
And lived happily ever after.
And they spent some years showing the King and Queen how to tame and train alligators. And Sacramento flourished under their Authority and Domain!

4 thoughts on “A letter from a stranger on the plane

    • I dreaded those “oh no” eyes the most! Other moms I’ve talked to shared horror stories of passengers not being forgiving, or actually expecting a snack pack these days. I guess we’ll never know who we’ll sit next to on the plane, but just have to keep a positive attitude and hope for the best!


  1. Amazing story and thank you for sharing Sha. Kindness exists in the world and how fortunate for you and Jing to have met Janet. She’s gone thru what you and Jing have having raised twins of her own and to your point…hard work, but will be worth it. What a great, great idea of giving the folks on the plane the little baggies. I have heard of that tip before, but never heard of anyone firsthand using it…EXCEPT for you guys. What you did went a long way and glad to know that you are THOSE parents. XOXOX


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