During the flight home to Newark on Jan. 6, Romey wasn’t fussy at all. In fact, she was transfixed during most of five-hour flight by the passenger next to her, who was crocheting a sweater.
“Entranced is the perfect word,” said Kelly Levine. “Romey is a very curious baby; she loves to just watch people and observe.”
The passenger, Meegan Rubin — who lives in Villanova, Pa., and was traveling with her boyfriend — took note of the wide-eyed infant as she worked on the sweater. She was tickled by the attention.
“She started staring at me so inquisitively,” said Rubin, a former dancer and pilates instructor, who created a fitness program.
Rubin taught herself to crochet in the pandemic, she said, and sometimes makes commissioned pieces — typically just for family and friends. She still considers herself a beginner.
As the baby sat mesmerized by Rubin’s fast finger work, the Levines didn’t know what Rubin was working on. Once Rubin finished her sweater, she looked at the curious baby and she decided she had just enough time — and just enough yarn — to pivot to a new project: a beanie for the baby. She was hopeful she could pull it together in about an hour.
“I just had to,” she said, adding that she makes an effort to surprise strangers with handmade gifts whenever she can.
A few minutes after the plane landed, Rubin turned to the couple, handed them a tiny cream-colored hat and declared: “Okay, it’s done!”
“We were totally shocked, as were the other passengers around us,” said Kelly Levine. “I was near tears.”
“We were so overcome with good feelings,” said her husband.
“It feels good to give,” said Rubin, who was also on the Levines’ first flight. Although they never interacted, Rubin noticed the family.
“They were so patient and coparenting so beautifully,” Rubin said. “I just was drawn to them.”
As Rubin gave Romey her new hat to try on, passengers on the plane watched with joy. The beanie fit the baby perfectly.
“Everyone was so happy to witness the kindness of a stranger, for no particular reason other than just to be nice,” said Kelly Levine. “It was a special moment.”
Levine decided to share the story on social media, hoping it would uplift more people. The TikTok she posted has been viewed more than 7.4 million times.
“Never in a million years did I expect the reaction that we’ve gotten,” said Kelly Levine, who first talked to the site The Hoboken Girl about the moment.
Hundreds of comments poured in, including “reminds me that people are still kind” and “I love humans.”
Rubin, for her part, was stunned when scores of people suddenly started following her crocheting Instagram account, which went from having fewer than 200 followers to nearly 26,000 in a matter of days.
“I’m feeling very grateful that it happened, and that it’s inspiring other people,” Rubin said.
The Levines said they look forward to sharing the story with their daughter one day.
“I will make sure Romey knows for the rest of her life that people can be nice to each other for no reason, and that this story inspired others to do so,” said Kelly Levine, adding that she and Rubin are staying in touch and hope to get together soon. “We want her to be a part of our life forever.”
Rubin said she’d like that, and her crochet hooks are at the ready.
“I’m going to always make that baby gifts,” she said.