The young man several rows ahead, alas, was not so fortunate. She studied the yarmulke sitting atop his head, indicating that he was an Orthodox Jew, like her, and observed him quietly motion to the stewardess after all the meals had been distributed. He asked in a polite manner about the kosher meal he had ordered but had not yet received.
The stewardess looked down at her clipboard, checked his seat number, his ticket, and then the clipboard again.
"I'm sorry, sir," she apologized, but I'm afraid your travel agent must have slipped. There was no kosher meal ordered on your behalf. I'll be glad to give you a standard airline meal."
The young man smiled. It was hard to explain "kosher" to people who were not Jewish, but he tried to explain that he was only allowed by religious law to eat specific foods prepared under the special supervision of rabbinic authorities. In his religion, it would be a sin to eat anything else.
"Can you have fruit?" the stewardess asked. "I think I have some in the galley." The young man indicated his assent, and the stewardess hurried off.
In the seat several rows behind, the young woman watched the scenario unfold. She had been in this exact situation countless times before. She knew how much the young man had probably depended on the meal. She gestured to the flight attendant.
"Listen," she said. "I have a kosher meal here, and I'll be glad to share it with the man up ahead. Please bring this and this to him. Thanks."
The flight attendant brought the food over, and the young man turned around gratefully and pantomimed his appreciation. She was happy to have performed a good deed.
At the flight's end, when the passengers disembarked, she was surprised to find the young man waiting for her at the gate.
"I just wanted to thank you personally," he said. "That was a very nice thing for you to do."
"Oh, it's okay, really," she said. "I am strictly kosher myself, so believe me, I understood what you were going through."
"I'd like to introduce myself," he said. "My name is Jonathan Brand."
"Hmm," she said, frowning in puzzlement, "your name sounds so familiar to me..."
"What's yours?" he asked.
"Judy Stone," she replied.
"I've heard your name before, too!" he exclaimed. "But from where?" he wondered aloud.
Then he snapped his fingers. A smile played on his lips. "Oh, I know!" he recalled. "A matchmaker once mentioned your name to me.... She said very nice things about you, actually."
"Oh, yes, of course, that's why your name sounds so familiar," Judy laughed awkwardly. "The matchmaker mentioned your name to me as well!"
There was an uncomfortable silence as the two shifted uneasily. The young man stared down at the floor, embarrassed.
Judy seized the courage to speak first. "I was actually interested in meeting you," she said, "but later, the matchmaker got back to me and said you weren't interested at all. May I ask you why?"
"She mentioned that you're pursuing graduate studies. I told her I didn't want a college girl," he mumbled, flustered.
"Why not?" she asked.
"I didn't think a college girl would be so interested in charity and good works, which is essential to me, my most important priority in life."
"Oh, really!" she challenged in a chiding voice. She gazed at him in mock anger, then softened her expression.
"I guess I made a mistake," he apologized.
It's 10 years now and the two have been married happily ever since.