Strangers, Sweaty Palms, and Selfish Sinners [The story of holding that strange man's hand]

I always board first.
Because I like to get to my seat first. I’m a window guy not an isle guy and I hate having to ask someone to stand up to let me in. Mostly because I hate standing up to let someone in. 🙂
I was the 5th person on the plane, but somehow this dude was in the aisle seat ALREADY. Seriously?
Laptop open, wires hanging all over the place. I thought to myself… “#Rookie”
Notice how I hashtag my own thoughts? I need help.
“Hey man. Looks like you are the lucky guy. I’m sitting next to you.”
He didn’t even look at me.
He just sort of made this half grunt, half puffing sound and packed his PC up only to stand, not get into the aisle, so that I could awkwardly slide in sharing a more intimate moment than I would have cared to with this PC packing 50 year old.
Yea. I already didn’t like him.
Good thing I only had FOUR HOURS next to him.
I tried to make small talk.
One word answers.
OK dude. Whatever. I’m out.
So I used my God given gift the Lord blessed me with and proceeded to sleep for 3 hours and 45 minutes of the flight.
That was until I woke up about 3 inches off my seat.
LOST was going down.
[LOST fans, you are welcome for that link] “Ladies and gentlemen. This is the captain speaking. The winds from hurricane Sandy are definitely whipping across even down here in Atlanta. We have 40 MPH gusts on the runway heading east to west and we are landing north to south. This is right on the verge of the winds being too high for us to land so we may divert to Chattanooga”
I was fan of the Chattanooga idea immediately.
“Or, I may just try it…”
[Insert very loud slow motion sound of the intercom shutting off] I looked left.
Bro was not ok.
Hands gripping the seat in front of him and head resting on his right forearm.
I tried desperately to get a ninja pic of him but his eyes were staring straight out my window.
Eyes that were terrified.
“Hey man.” I said. “It’ll be ok”.
Suddenly i realized why he was such a DB earlier.
He was petrified.
And with the pilot’s assurance of an “attempted landing” it sent holmes into a panic.
“Seriously man. Just breathe”
At this point we were about 30 seconds from touchdown and I did something I never would have imagined doing.
I simply laid my hand on my left leg, palm up, and opened it.
That’s it.
Didn’t say a word.
I didn’t even think he saw it.
Until I felt a palm that was about 200 degrees and soaking wet grab it.
He sat up, didn’t squeeze, and closed his eyes.
This moment lasted about 20 seconds.

It was the sort of landing where everyone cheers when we touch down.
And the passengers did not disappoint.

I wanted to say something, but there was really nothing to say.
He didn’t even look at me.
He simply packed his bags and waited our turn, stood up, and walked down the isle.
I followed him out into the concourse. He wasn’t about to turn around. Which was fine by me.
But then he looked over his shoulder, no expression, and simply locked eyes with me for a second.

I don’t know what he was thinking in that moment, but I know what I was thinking…
“You needed to hold my hand cause you were scared. I needed to hold your hand cause I’m a selfish assuming sinner.”

Sometimes all it takes is an open palm…
It’s better that way…


Author loswhit

More posts by loswhit
  • BriAnne

    Sometimes we need to be that sanity for the other person just to keep out own sanity.. and sometimes God just gets us to do things we wouldn’t do if we thought about it first because He needs us too.. either way it’s a beautiful thing you did..
    I’m guessing he’s a “man” and couldn’t show any emotion about what just happened, but you probably made his day in more ways than one….

  • Jenn

    I LOVE this story. I love the reminder that we are all human and need each other. Thank you for sharing and doing the right thing!

    • Los

      You are welcome Jenn. It wasn’t easy!

  • Tiffani Brown

    I love that God makes the craziest crap happen to you so that you can relate it to Him and blog about it. Its like he actually WANTS you doing this or something?! 😉

    #winning …. #forJesus

    • Los

      I’m God’s own reality show…

  • Beautiful. I know that whenever I’m having a panic attack just my husbands hand on my shoulder or the dog next to me so I can pet him brings some relief to my anxiety. We are made for touch. I love that you offered him your hand and that he accepted.

    • Los

      Good word…

  • “If she turns around, she’s interested…”

  • Carlos Sandoval

    Great story! Love how you always manage to get in the ninja pic.

    • Los

      They call me Bruce Instagram

      • how about Jackie InstaChan haha #punny

  • Becky Miller

    My sister-in-law gets bad panic attacks on airplanes. BAD. Like, she has had to de-plane and miss her flight more than once bad.

    I wish she’d had a stranger offer her a hand to hold. So for her, thanks for doing this.

    • Los

      You are welcome Becky.

  • Julia

    This reminds me of a time last year when I was coming back home from visiting family.. I sat next to a woman on a plane who had been in a car accident. She was clearly in pain but refused to go to a hospital because her grandmother was in her last moments and she needed to be there. I didn’t have any words to say so I just listened. After takeoff, she laid across the middle seat. I had 2 sweaters with me so I offered them to lay her head on..

    Reading your story is a great reminder that these small acts of love matter. It also made me cry. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lo

      Thanks for crying… 😉

  • Shirley

    Sometimes it’s harder to grab the hand of the people we know and love…so much more than it is a strangers. Grab it anyways.

    • Los

      Grab it anyways. Love it.

  • Chepe Guzmán

    Now I get it. He didn’t need to say something else, but his 1 second look at you, was the most sincere “Thanks”. And you didn’t need to do or say more than placing your hand. He felt another human, experiencing the same fear he had, but it gave him some sort of peace.

    God teaches us through small and little things, great things for life.

    Great story bro.

    • Los

      Thanks Chepe

  • Love

    Amazing what can happen and what we can learn when we just open up our hands to Him.
    Love this.

    • Los

      Yes it is LetLoveGrow

  • Anne Verebely

    I can relate to this guy – this made me cry. That was so awesome of you to comfort him. I’m always asking my husband if that noise in the plane is ok :-).
    Anyway this touched me greatly!

    • Los

      Thanks Anne!

  • This story totally made me cry! I don’t know that I would have thought to even make a gesture like that. Really amazing!

    • Los

      Thanks Kara

  • I just sat here and laughed. Because My wife is the same way anytime we get on a plane. LOL!!! Thanks for the story.

    • Los

      Thanks Caleb!

  • Steve

    Great story! Glad I wasn’t on that flight or I would’ve needed your other hand. I’d be willing to bet that you were divinely booked on that flight in that very seat just to comfort that guy.

  • Sonia Moring

    “…selfish assuming sinner.” Yep, that’s me. I love the humbling moments when God reaches into my heart and pulls a piece of Him to the surface.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • B.Rad

    ** T-Shirt idea **
    Front: Palms Up!
    Back: I want to hold your hand.

    I’ll take an XL when you print them up!

  • Natalie Witcher

    I laughed, I gasped, I sinned because I’m jealous of your ability to sleep on a plane, I related to the DB, and I cried when you held out your hand. Carlos….huge. Loves.

  • Andrew P

    Los, dude… you challenge and encourage me to live “crazy christianity”. To live “The Greatest Commandment” — you know, Love God 100% and love others the same way. Man, you live it. And when you fail, you fess up — to all of us. That’s integrity. Thankyou for sharing this story, and thanks for sharing your adventures and thoughts with us.

  • Randy Walton

    Wow! Just wow. Fantastic story. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pierre

    Perfect example of standing in the gap for someone else. Your act was one of kindness, forgiveness, and just plain good guy stuff you do all the time.

  • joy

    I wish I could sleep when I fly…although I generally don’t panic. I also don’t make small talk with my neighbors…lol… As for extending a hand to that guy – that’s awesome! I could see myself scrubbing my hand afterwards…a bit of ocd/germ phobia…lol

    Anyhoo…that’s great what you did! Im sure he appreciated it even though he didnt say so.


  • Lana

    I did the laugh/sob reading this!
    Thanks for doing that, for offering your hand. I am touched.
    Reminds me of Isaiah, “For I, the Lord, will hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

    Also reminds me of the time the plane was swinging side to side and shuddering as we tried to land in Denver. I was aisle, really rather old business man window, and snobby 40ish business guy middle. I actually yelped out in fear. Old guy reached over snob guy and patted my arm comfortingly. Human kindness is beautiful, and is a reflection of the Father.

  • Amanda

    It makes me really happy that you did this. I’ve had more than one panic attack in flight, and many more than that in public, and it would have meant a lot to me if a stranger next to me had offered me a hand.
    Actually, I was on a flight with a really rough take-off about 8 months ago, and I started having a panic attack, and I just had tears streaming down my face, and the flight attendant (who could see me from her seat) came and made sure I was okay and brought me a handful of tissues. I was so grateful for the kindness she offered me. Thanks for offering that comfort to someone else.

  • This is a powerful story! Thanks for sharing this. We all need each other at some point.

  • Thanks for the story. Grateful God made you awesome and willing to document your God moments so transparently. We all have them random and crazy like yours … Youre just so good at telling them and seeing the small truths and lessons. Im thanking God gor you.

  • MJT

    I read this story and I dont know why, but my eyes are watering..

  • NinjaRyan

    The guy in the pic looks very much like an old friend of mine… I just messaged him with the link. #pleaseletitbetrue

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  • aaron cook

    love this! Thanks. 🙂

  • legit

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  • touching.

  • Leslie

    “I needed to hold your hand cause I’m a selfish assuming sinner.”…tears. Thank you!

  • Love this so much. What an example of exactly what I thanked God for this morning – being a refuge for others:

    And in your usual way, you have shared this in such an authentic and humbling way. Thank you!!

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  • Susan P.

    Wow. Thank you God for using vessels such as Carlos to extend your grace. When we lease expect it, want it, or accept it, you allow us to be instruments of Your peace that passes all understanding. Forgive my human-ness that wanted an evangelizing moment or some way to claim glory for your “good guys.” Maybe you gave this opportunity not just to a scared stranger, but to one of your sheep who needs to know “I have called you by name, you are mine.”

  • gabriella

    #lovedoes!!! open palms ftw! 🙂

  • I pray one day he will be able to get in touch with you & talk to you! What an amazing story! I love this!

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  • SHendrix

    We’ve all needed someone to just put there hand, palm up with no judgment. Thank you for doing that for him.

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