The Story Behind Seat 42K: please meet Baruch

Posted by at 10:12

In an unguarded moment, I told a colleague, who also blogs for KLM, that I write about special passengers. I do this because I cherish those memories. And, even though these stories are pretty personal, I want to share them with you so that even more people will feel the beating heart of passenger “1A” or “42K”.

Lagos – Amsterdam

Boarding at Lagos Airport is as hectic as always – most of the hand baggage is too large, too heavy and awkwardly packed. It’s evening, but still hot, and the (malaria) mosquitoes are buzzing irritatingly around our heads at door 12. A queue begins to build up around the galley; a lot of passengers have questions and requests, because they haven’t been seated together. And we, the cabin crew, have been awake for a very long time; there wasn’t time for a power nap before the flight was called.

Suddenly, there is Baruch

This two-and-a-half-year-old Nigerian boy is travelling with his mother. She is heavily laden and visibly tired. Baruch steps cheerfully into our Airbus. The rucksack on his back is impressively large, as is the smile on his face. Only someone without a care in the world can produce a grin this broad. The boy lingers as he walks onboard, as if he’s realised that I’m enjoying watching him. Our eyes meet and he holds my gaze, intensely. His mother pushes him inside and presents her boarding pass, clearly dying to sit down.

After the meals have been served, the lights go out and most of the passengers go to sleep. This is when the cabin crew has time to eat, read the newspaper, or have a chat. But then Baruch comes into the galley. He says nothing, but looks around. As soon as he catches my eye, that amazing smile spreads across his face again. We don’t speak each other’s languages, but it doesn’t matter. His mother is asleep. She must have thought, ‘What can go wrong? My child can’t possibly get lost, we’re on a plane.’

The Baruch grin

I don’t want to wake up his mother, so I keep an eye on the boy. He wanders around a bit, looks into our trolleys, rummages in empty spaces and looks at us enquiringly whenever he wants to touch something, or pick it up. He is gentle, sweet, funny and, above all, considering his age, careful.

In a moment of silliness I open an empty trolley cupboard and let Baruch walk in. Unsuspectingly he goes in and I push the door to behind him, convinced he will want to come out immediately and will bang on the door. But nothing happens. It’s a few minutes before he pokes his hand out and emerges with that enormous Baruch grin on his face. He clearly enjoyed being invisible.

Duty calls

When it’s time for us to start preparing the breakfasts, I take Baruch back to his mother. I gently wake her from a deep sleep. She is amazed that there are just 90 minutes before landing. We have a quick chat. They are booked on a connecting flight to Paris where her husband is working and where the family is going to live for a time. I would like to talk with her for longer, to ask her questions and tell her about the fun I had in the galley with her son. But duty calls.

I feel very lucky to have met the Baruch Grin. It is engraved on my heart and memory. I will certainly be able to pick him out from other passengers in future, because that kind of unforced love and pleasure is universally unforgettable.

Baruch has a long way to go to reach his own destination, but I know he will get there!

 

Do you want to know why my job as a cabin attendant rocks? Find out here.

 

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17 Responses to The Story Behind Seat 42K: please meet Baruch

  1. Kithsiri De Silva

    Lovely.
    Well written and looking at the pictures, I can see that he was a charmer and you have not exaggerated a bit describing him.
    Thanks for sharing this experience.
    Kithsiri De Silva

  2. ALETTA VANDERNAT

    ECHT PRACHTIG!

  3. Eline Buma

    Zo ontroerend lief! Inspirerend!

  4. Beverley Johnson

    Funny! Loved your capture of the moments. Also, KLM staff are genuinely kind and professional. Thank you for taking care of me since 1983…..!

    • Renata Beck

      Since 1983….. WOW!
      That’s what I call loyalty! Thank you

  5. Norman

    One F is my seat.

  6. Anoop Asarpota

    Beautiful Indeed !
    Not many are so observant, and not many can feel the same like you.
    Even myself cannot forget the smile of Baruch in the picture posted.

  7. Alexander Dalgleish-Weaver

    Last week, we had a visibly nervous little girl with her parents on my weekly London to Amsterdam commute. It’s a short flight, so the crew are always pressured. But our wonderful purser made time to sit beside her before push-back to ask her very confidently “Now, who was she going to grow up into? Would it be Super Girl, or maybe Wonder Woman?

    Our perfect purser had one very scared little girl, and not few nervous adults enthralled with her confidence and charm.

    How crew handle children says so much about their values and personality, and does so much to build real confidence in young travellers. It’s so beautiful to see even the youngest passengers treated with humour and respect. I thought I knew why I enjoy flying with you guys. Last week, I got one more reason.

    • Renata Beck

      Thank you for your reply and the compliments. Indeed the children need to be taken care of with extra attention. And that is so easy to do, as they are spontaneous and curious. And ofcourse, our future passengers! It’s good to hear you enjoy flying KLM, and hopefully we will see you again and again on one of our flights!

  8. Fabio Camilo

    !Hope you see his grin again!Very well written article!

  9. Linda Vodegel Matzen

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this bit of lovely eperience. Brings a huge smile on :- )

  10. Samera

    I have travelled in the past on klm flights, the crew is professional and caring, they go above and beyond of what is expected of them.

    • Renata Beck

      Thank you for the compliment, Samera. Hopefully you will fly KLM again in the present and future!

  11. Neil Tooley

    Lovely observation and well written!

  12. Walter Chomba Ramirez

    Lovely story.. I can relate to it, my wife and son then 18 months flew with KLM from Lima to London and she is afraid of flying so she cudn’t do much and the crew helped her a lot with the care of my son. KLM go beyond the call of duty. Well done KLM

  13. Renata Beck

    That’s what we do, Mr. Chomba Ramirez. And that makes our job lovely. Thank you.

  14. Eduardo Vazquez

    Beautiful and humble story,ithose the very special moments we treasure on our line of duty,well written and well job done,KLM ALWAYS BETTER✈️

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