When a Man Made Fun of His Seatmate’s Weight, This Stranger Stepped In

She glanced down at his phone and saw that he was texting, “Hey Babe, I’m sitting next to a smelly fatty.”

Savannah and ChaseCourtesy (2)

Soon after Savannah Phillips got buckled into her window seat on a United Airlines flight from Oklahoma to Illinois this past May, she glanced over at her seatmate. He was in his 60s, wore bright yellow sunglasses, and was busy texting. The font was unusually large and the screen was bright, making it easy for Phillips to read what he was tapping out: “Hey Babe, I’m sitting next to a smelly fatty.”

“It was like confirmation of the negative things I think about myself on a daily basis,” the 33-year-old mother wrote in a Facebook post after the flight. Soon tears streamed down her cheeks as she hugged the cabin wall, trying to make herself as small as possible.

Sitting a row behind them and across the aisle was Chase Irwin, a 35-year-old bar manager from Nashville, Tennessee. He could see the man’s texts, too—and he could see Phillips. “I noticed [her] looking at his phone,” Irwin told wsmv.com. “I was sick to my stomach. I could not have this guy sit next to her this whole flight and her thinking he’s making fun of her,” he told Nashville’s NewsChannel 5.

In an instant, Irwin had unbuckled his seat belt and was hovering over the texter. “Hey, I need to talk to you,” Irwin told him. “We are switching seats—now.” When the texter asked why, Irwin said, “You’re texting about her, and I’m not putting up with that.”

The texter acceded quickly. Irwin took his place next to Phillips and was soon cheering up his new seatmate.

“He encouraged me not to let that guy get to me and that everything was going to be fine,” Phillips wrote. And he was right. She and Irwin spent the rest of the flight chatting like old friends.

With her faith in humanity restored, Phillips wrote on Facebook, “The flight attendant told him that he was her hero. He wasn’t her hero—he was mine.”

Next, read about even more unsung heroes who will restore your faith in humanity.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest