British Columbia·Point of View

The kindness of strangers: A no-strings-attached offer on a lonely flight to Vancouver

I met you on an airplane 17 years ago, right as I was embarking on a move to Vancouver from Australia. I had just said goodbye to my whole family at the Sydney airport. The last thing I saw was my dad; the look on his face showed how upset he was that I was leaving.

Are you the stranger in this story? Get in touch with The Early Edition

Annemarie Kaan was moving to Vancouver when she met a kind stranger on the flight over. (Submitted by Annemarie Kaan)

CBC Radio One's The Early Edition asked listeners to share their stories of kindness from strangers.  Annemarie Kaan's story is the third in a CBC series that airs from Dec. 10 - 14 about those moments of kindness.

Dear stranger,

I met you on an airplane 17 years ago, right as I was embarking on a move to Vancouver from Australia.

I had just said goodbye to my whole family at the Sydney airport. The last thing I saw was my dad; the look on his face showed how upset he was that I was leaving.

As I got onto the plane, I was feeling pretty fragile about the whole thing.

Of course, I was excited — I'm a nurse and love to ski so when an opportunity to work at St. Paul's Hospital came up, I grabbed it — but I also had a lot of trepidation.

You were working as a flight attendant on that Air Canada flight and came over to give me a cup of tea. We started chatting about my impending move to Canada.

I didn't know anyone where I was going so was feeling quite lonely and worried about how it was all going to pan out.

I think you got a pretty clear image of how I was feeling and continued checking in with me throughout the flight.  

As we approached Vancouver, you came over and told me:

"You know, it's going to be okay in Canada but if you ever feel like you need help or want to have dinner with someone, here's my parents' phone number. They live in Vancouver and if you feel lonely, call them and they'll have you up for a meal."

It was such a lovely offer and it blew me away.

There was no ulterior motive — you weren't asking me out on a date or anything like that — it was just a pure act of kindness coming out of concern for me.

It's a moment that's stuck with me all these years. Seventeen years later, I still think about it.

I never ended up following through on the offer, I was a bit overwhelmed when I first arrived in Vancouver and got swept up in life.  

But I wish sometimes that I would've kept that number and given your parents a call.

I did actually write to Air Canada to try to find you but only got a generic form letter back.

The kindness you showed me that day had a lasting impact.

I've taken a page out of your book and I try to show small acts of kindness every day — I make an effort just to smile at someone or offer them a cup of tea. It can make such a difference.

Thank you for teaching me that life lesson because it has served me well over the years.

Yours,

Annemarie  Kaan

If you are the stranger in this story, or know who it is, email The Early Edition at earlyed@cbc.ca.

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