Throughout the flight, the man looked after Kate. He
answered her questions about turtles and let her see his iPad. Because of him,
Kate had her most successful flight yet.
This prompted Mouland to write at “thank you” letter
to the stranger. It became viral and soon they were able to find out who the
kind stranger was. The letter goes:
I don’t know your name but Kate called you ‘daddy’
for the entire flight last week and you kindly never corrected her. In fact,
you didn’t even flinch as you could probably tell that she was not confusing
you with her own ‘daddy’ but instead making a judgment regarding your level of
‘safety’ for her. If she calls you ‘daddy’ then you better believe she thinks
you are alright.
I sat Kate in the middle seat knowing full well that
there would be a stranger sitting next to her for the duration of this flight.
I had to make a quick decision and based on her obsession with opening and
closing the window shade I figured she might be less of a distraction if she sat
in the middle. I watched the entire Temple basketball team board the plane and
wondered if one of these giants might sit by Kate. They all moved toward the
back. She would have liked that, she would have made some observations that I
would have had to deal with but she would have liked those players. I watched
many Grandmotherly women board and hoped for one to take the seat but they
walked on by. For a fleeting moment I thought we might have a free seat beside
us and then you walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important
documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your
multi-million dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held.
The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and
she liked the feel of it. You smiled at her and she said: “Hi, Daddy, that’s my
mom.” Then she had you.
You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat.
You could have ignored her. You could have given me that ‘smile’ that I despise
because it means; ‘manage your child please.’ You did none of that. You engaged
Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could
never really answer your questions but she was so enamored by you that she keep
eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about. I
watched and smiled. I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would
have none of it.
Kate: (Upon noticing you had an iPad) Is dis Daddy’s
You: This is my iPad. Would you like to see it?
Kate: To me?????? (I know she thought you were
offering it to her to keep)
Me: Look with your eyes, Kate. That is not yours.
Kate: Dat’s nice!
You: (Upon noticing that Kate had an iPad) I like
your computer, too. It has a nice purple case.
Kate: Daddy wanna be a bad guy? (She offered shredder
to you and that, my friend, is high praise)
The interaction went on and on and you never once
seemed annoyed. She gave you some moments of peace while she played with her
Anna and Elsa dolls. Kind of her to save you from playing barbies, but I bet
you wouldn’t have minded a bit. I bet you have little girls, too.
Not long before we landed Kate had reached her limit.
She screamed to have her seatbelt off, she screamed for me to open the plane
door and she cried repeating, “Plane is cwosed (closed)” over and over. You
tried to redirect her attention to her toys. She was already too far gone at
this point, but the fact that you tried to help your new little friend made me
In case, you are wondering. She was fine the moment
we stepped off the plane. Thank you for letting us go ahead of you. She was
feeling overwhelmed and escaping the plane and a big, long hug was all she
So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat
those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for
entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet.
And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.”
The letter quickly went viral and reached “Daddy at
16c” the following day. It’s been a year now since the flight and they came to
know the guy. His name is Eric Kunkel from New Jersey, he’s married, and is a
parent himself. He has since became good friends with the Moulands.
Thanks to a kind stranger, a little girl had one
awesome flight to remember.