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Are You Brothers? Age 35

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

I often used to fly between Southern California and Sacramento for work. A highlight of flying was people-watching. The mobile populations at airports are so diverse and they display a wide variety of fashion styles that I appreciate. Some people are beautiful and energetic; others dog tired and frumpy; some are wide eyed and excited while others are all business on their cell phones and computers.

Families with young kids are often anxious, wanting to protect their children in the strange environment on one hand, and hoping their kids will behave during their flight on the other.
On one flight, I ended up in the back row of a packed plane. I sat next to an older African American gentleman.

As he and I were getting acquainted, I noticed a couple of young boys, maybe 3 and 5 years old, in the seats in front of us. They were squirming, standing up, sitting down, looking out the window, opening and closing the window shade, sliding to the floor, climbing back up on the seat, looking at the seats in front of them and then at the last row where I was. They were wide eyed and excited. I assume the boys were brothers.

While checking everything out around him, one of the boys kept looking at me and my seat-mate. He noticed us getting along and curiosity got the best of him. He stood up on his seat so he could see us face to face and, having our attention, asked, "Are you brothers?"


Well, why not? The boy was there with his brother, getting along, and this other guy and I were chatting and getting along. The difference in our colors wasn't an issue for this young observer. We were a couple of guys, brothers, taking a flight to Southern California just like he and his brother.

In those brief moments in the back of the plane, my seat-mate and I connected as friends. We smiled in gentle amusement, looked at each other, then back at the boy and at the same time we both said, "Well, yes, kind of."

While both of us were looking at the child, I said, "In the eyes of God we are brothers." Then, my new friend said, "That's right." The boy looked at us for a moment longer, a thoughtful look on his face, accepted our answer and went back to exploring.

It was a sweet experience, so innocent, the way life should be, and nice to be brought back to the simplest of perspectives. We just need to be willing to let it happen when the light of innocence shines on us.

Thanks kid.

~ Andrew Laufer













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