Out of the blue today I had a memory about two men who sat in front of me on an airplane years ago.
The flight was to Vancouver from Beijing, and had 44 babies included on the passenger roster, which was mostly filled with the new parents of the babies, with a small number of business men. All of us on the plane knew this, since the priority call for "passengers with small children" left only a small group of men (all laughing at what lay ahead) to wait for the final call.
I was on the flight with a dear friend and we indeed had a beautiful baby stretched out on our laps (a story for another day).
The man directly in front on me was on his own (no spouse or helper travelling with him) with his tiny mite - she was cute as a button, until takeoff when she started crying at top volume, as did many of the babies. Once the plane reached altitude and the seatbelt light went off, the new dad was starting to look very uncomfortable and apologetic. Beside him was an older Chinese man wearing a business suit. The older man spoke no English; the young new father no Mandarin.
Roughly an hour later, when "our" baby was asleep on our laps and we could smell the food beginning to be served, the baby on the lap of the man in front of me continued her crying, with the giant O of her crying mouth taking up her entire little face.
Eventually, someone from the dad's travelling group came by with an antihistamine for the baby - he didn't have any and it was clear the baby needed something, most likely for her ears (and his... and ours).
At last, the baby fell asleep over her dad's shoulder. Then his meal was served, the attendant putting it on the tray in front of him - and seeing his predicament, she cut it up for him so he could use one hand. The older man beside him got his meal too, and started to eat.
It was soon clear to us that the dad couldn't eat; the way the baby was slung on his shoulder made it impossible for him to even reach his fork. And no way was he going to move her now that she was asleep. Poor guy, we thought.
The older gentleman picked up the young dad's fork and very nicely fed him.