I have a new hero.
And she’s a Beaufort mom named Megan Bieniek.
Bieniek stuck up for herself recently — and all of mankind really — when she, her husband and their toddler were on a flight home to Wichita, Kansas, so they could attend a wedding and celebrate Thanksgiving.
A profoundly unkind thing happened to them on that flight and Bieniek, though rightfully hurt, took the moment and turned it into an inspirational post on Facebook that was shared hundreds of times and later picked up by the KWCH news station in Wichita.
Here’s what happened: Bieniek was on a connecting Delta flight from Atlanta to Wichita and was seated next to a small woman — both in body and mind — who loudly texted an insult about the family.
I say “loudly texted” because, according to Bieniek’s post, the woman was holding her phone away from her face (the way one who needs reading glasses but isn’t wearing them would) and the text was written in enlarged font (the kind of font someone who needs reading glasses but never wears them would use).
The text said “SITTING NEXT TO 2 FAT PEOPLE AND THEIR TODDLER. PRAY FOR ME.”
Bieniek turned to the woman and said, “If you’re going to type (out) awful things about the people next to you, maybe you shouldn’t have your enlarged text on and hold it for them to see.”
The woman didn’t deny that the text was about the family.
Instead she smirked and (proudly?) held her phone closer to Bieniek’s face.
When Bieniek asked — I assume out of disbelief that someone could be so cruel and unapologetic when confronted — whether the text was, in fact, about her and her family, the woman replied “Yep!”
Bieniek called over a flight attendant, who then looked for a way to move the loud texter away from the family.
A man volunteered his seat. Other passengers comforted Bieniek, who was brought to tears by the incident. A flight attendant hugged her.
In her post, Bieniek notes the kindness of the people around her and urges others to seek kindness in their own lives.
“While one woman showed such hate, so many on our flight showed such love,” she wrote.
Bieniek also outlines all the things this woman did not know about her but judged anyway.
“You are someone that won’t give a person a chance because you don’t like how they look,” Bieniek wrote.
But here’s my favorite part of her post: “To everyone else out there, stop the hate. We were all told ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.’ I want to take it a step further. If you don’t have anything nice to say, but you are thinking it, do some self-exploration. Why do you feel the need to say that unkind thing? What good would come of it? What can you do to improve yourself? Be a good person! Make friends with a stranger. BE KIND!!!”
Bieniek shared these words along with photos of the woman from the flight.
While I have mixed feelings about her public outing of the texter on Facebook — because maybe that, too, is unkind in a way ... I’m not sure and am still mulling it over — I think these photos do serve a purpose.
They make Bieniek’s words stronger.
They raise the stakes on our own moments of weakness, when a mean thought would be better left unexpressed.
They remind us that we live in an actual world among actual human beings and not in the limited thin rectangle worlds of our making that we hold in our hands.
And, I’m just guessing here, those photos are also a reminder to at least one vicious person that she should probably start wearing those reading glasses.
Because you have a lot more things to be embarrassed about than growing old, my friend.