Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 6

FROM OUR PRESIDENT

Random Acts of Kindness
in the Friendly Skies

S

eemingly small gestures can make a big difference.
Working abroad during my high-risk pregnancies posed challenges big and small. Despite reduced
physical mobility and the threat of complications, I pressed on with the demands of working and
managing an office in China. Frequent business trips were not easy. Often on a tight schedule,
I traveled with carry-on luggage and a heavy work bag. I came to fear places without elevators,
escalators, or ramps. Minor inconveniences suddenly became major hurdles.

In a country of over a billion people, it was crowded everywhere. People old and young jockeyed aggressively and constantly for a spot in line for anything and everything. In the mass frenzy of airports and cities,
chivalry and common courtesies toward strangers were a rarity.

Connect
with Esther:
elim@dcbar.org

On one hot, smoggy day during my second trimester, feeling quite weak, I navigated the maze of the
airport and at last reached the boarding gate. Exhaustion overwhelmed me. Instead of a walkway onto
the plane, a bus awaited. Tears welled up as I wondered how I would load two bags on and off the bus,
then up the narrow steps of the plane. I felt all alone in a big crowd. Crestfallen, I headed to the bus and
gingerly made it to the first step, carefully lifting one bag at a time.
Then something unexpected happened. Without a word, a Chinese man in professional attire stood up
from his seat and loaded my bags onto the bus. Stunned, all I could say was xièxie (thank you). It was the first
time that a stranger assisted with my bags during countless business trips in China. And, of all days,
that stranger helped me when I needed it most.

"In a world
where you can
be anything,
be kind."

I don't recall how I climbed the narrow steps of the plane, but I will always remember that random act
of kindness. That was seven years ago.
Earlier this year, I was on a domestic flight returning home from a business trip. While boarding continued,
I was in my usual aisle seat, typing away on my laptop to send a pressing email before takeoff. Sensing an
unusual commotion, I looked up to discover that in the row ahead, a passenger was attempting to reclaim
his assigned aisle seat in which a disabled man sat next to his wife. The couple had been assigned two
middle seats separated by an aisle.
When that passenger and two other men in the quadrant of aisle seats in two successive rows - all
able-bodied - refused to switch, the wife painstakingly moved her disabled husband from the aisle seat
to the middle seat. She then started to gather her belongings to cross the aisle.

UNKNOWN

I stopped her. I volunteered to take the wife's middle seat on the other side. The woman looked at me with
grateful eyes and sat back down next to her husband.
I said nothing to the flight attendants, but word spread. All three flight attendants stopped by to thank me
profusely. They, like me, had been distressed by the others' ambivalence and unwillingness to accommodate a disabled passenger. They showered me with apologies (for the inconvenience), appreciation (for the
kindness), and, over my protest, a certificate (for a future flight).
More than anything, I was glad that I could help someone in need - just as that stranger had done for
me years earlier in China. I was also reminded of a quote that really spoke to me: "In a world where you can
be anything, be kind."

Photo: Patrice Gilbert Photography

6

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

APRIL 2019

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http://dcbar.org

Washington Lawyer - April 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - April 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
DC Bar Practice Management Advisory Service feature
Niching Down to Build Up feature
Going Small feature
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 12
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - DC Bar Practice Management Advisory Service feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Niching Down to Build Up feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Going Small feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 36
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 49
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 51
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover4
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