Culture

Autistic 7-Year-Old Hops On Solo Flight With $10 And A Note, What Happened Next Melted The Internet

If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s unexpected friendships. 

In a now-viral Facebook post, a mother has shared a heartwarming text from a stranger who befriended her autistic son at a time he most needed a buddy. 

Little Landon, 7, was set to fly from Las Vegas to Oregon last Thursday to visit his dad. 

Credit: @RecruitShare / Twitter

It would also be his first-ever plane ride by himself. His mother, Alexa Bjornson, was anxious he might have a tough time coping and worried he might be a bother to his seatmates. 

Landon has high-functioning autism, a condition that has been likened to Asperger’s Syndrome and is characterized by potential emotional sensitivity, obsessively repetitive behavior, and social difficulties.

Hoping to do the right thing, his mother decided to pack him a note that he could present to the passenger sitting beside him on the Southwest Airlines flight. 

The handwritten note described her son’s condition and explained that he might get nervous during the flight. She warned that Landon may repeatedly ask questions, namely, “Are we there yet?”

Most of all, she hoped her words might beseech a kindly soul to keep an eye out for him, and help Landon feel safe and comfortable. 

Bjandon hoped she might inspire a stranger into seeing the ‘challenge’ as a do-good opportunity.

Credit: Ben Pedraza / Facebook

She also tucked a $10 bill into the note as a gesture of thanks and to compensate any bother. 

Turns out, she had nothing to worry about! 

With a stroke of luck, the stranger that Landon wound up sitting next to was none other than a man called Ben Pedraza.

After the plane landed, Bjornson said she was surprised by an unexpected text message.

“Alexa, my name is Ben,”  it started. It turned out that Ben didn’t need the $10, because he and Landon had gotten on like a house on fire!

Ben announced that the youngster had been “a great travel buddy”. The pair of new friends had played games and swapped jokes during the journey. 

“We had a good time and played a few rounds of rock-paper-scissors. He’s a great kid and you’re a lucky mom.”

Bjornson even received a cheery selfie of the two new pals.

Credit: Alexa Bjornson / Facebook

Ben said that, while he doesn’t always talk at length to the people he sits next to, it was easy to chat to Landon.

They even bonded over some heart-to-heart, more serious topics. 

“One thing Landon shared that resonated with me is that he’s sometimes bullied”, said Ben. “I think more needs to be discussed and done to thwart this behavior by other children and adults.”

Bjornson was deeply touched by the stranger’s sincerity in looking out for her hijo when she couldn’t be there. 

“I am so grateful to this individual, and that there are still kind people in the world who make a difference like I try myself to do”, she wrote in her initial Facebook post. 

Naturally, the internet exploded with gooey joy.

The initial Facebook post that Bjornson shared has racked up 319,000 likes and 15,000 comments, and has been shared 142,000 shares times.

News of the unexpected friendship has continued to inspire social media users from around the world.

Credit: Alexa Bjornson / Facebook

People are freaking out over this seemingly small deed. Shows you how much peole are craving some good news!

Most have applauded Ben’s kindness! 

Credit: Alexa Bjornson / Facebook

While a couple of comments have questioned Bjornson’s decision to put her son on the plane by himself, others have rushed to her defense and argued that flight attendants are made aware of any children traveling solo. 

Many users have called the story out for what it is – a total tear-jerker.

Credit: Alexa Bjornson / Facebook

Ok, yea, I’m definitely crying.

Overall, the resounding sentiment is: 

Credit: Alexa Bjornson / Facebook

YAS, Wendy. 

Traveling with autism isn’t always easy.

Many people these days take their wanderlust fancies for granted. However, for individuals and families affected by autism, traveling can pose a scary challenge. 

Something as seemingly simple as taking a plane to another city can represent a series of intimidating experiences, unfamiliar noises, and disrupted routines. 

There have even been a couple of alarming incidents where airlines have been markedly unsympathetic to the cause. 

In 2015, a family was kicked off a United Airlines flight because of their 15-year-old autistic daughter. A more recent case last year saw an autistic teen being forcibly removed from an Emirates flight to Australia, despite the family warning the airline in advance.  

There’s clearly a long way to go before travel is fully inclusive, however, some have argued the world is slowly changing to better accommodate special needs in this field. 

At the end of the day, all of us can certainly all take a leaf out of Ben’s book in looking out for each other, whatever they may be going through.

After all, there’s not always an explanation note. 

In Bjornson’s words, “it is a very humbling experience and I just hope that it raises awareness that if you see children having a hard time — or not — that just a kind gesture can change the outlook in their lives.”

Now – who said the Internet’s all doom-and-gloom? Faith in humanity restored (for now). 

The Concha Burger Is Real And It May Be The Ultimate Food Mashup

Culture

The Concha Burger Is Real And It May Be The Ultimate Food Mashup

Elnortekitchen / Instagram

The burger, shake, and fries are enduring icons of American cuisine. This greasy, calorie-laden food is the stuff of American folklore. Integral to the iconography of the U.S. of A., burgers are the perfect meal anytime of day, any day. But a group of visionaries, added a twist to the American classic to switch it up a little —for the better. In a time of cultural hybridization, the blending of elements from different cultures, an All-American burger, paired with the quintessentially Mexican pan dulce resulted in the cultural hybrid of dreams. I give you: the concha burger. 

If you, like us, love a good pan dulce as much as you love a juicy burger, Mexican food pop up, El Norte, has something to say to you; ¿Por qué no los dos?

El Norte Kitchen, a Mexican food pop up that specializes in “Norteño” food —food typical of the northern region of Mexico— came up with a sweet and savory creation, that’s the stuff of Mexican-American dreams. Replacing the burger buns for a concha, this new sandwich is a sweet and savory delight that will satisfy both your cravings.

Run by a Latinx family, El Norte’s food has Sonoran roots with an Arizonan touch.

El Norte Kitchen is a Pop-Up Restaurant run by the Allen Family. The pop up creates unique Mexican inspired dining experiences in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The Latinx family lived in Tucson, Arizona for years, which is why their food is influenced by the culinary delights they tried in their many travels to the southwestern city.

Ben Allen is the head chef and founder of the pop up and he has a deep love affair with Mexican food.

Ben Allen —the chef and owner of El Norte Kitchen— is devoted to Sonoran food, this love stems from his move from Minnesota to Tucson at 19. He had planned on going to school but ended up cooking across several kitchens instead—falling in love with the region’s style of Mexican food in the process.

The team at El Norte Kitchen works hard to innovate and offer their guests an experience that is fun, delicious and unforgettable —I mean, who could forget a concha burger?

Buttered and cut in half, the concha is stuffed with a beef patty, pepper Jack cheese, bacon, jalapeños, and pickled onions. Sadly though, it was a short-lived offer. Ben Allen told Fork Yeah about how they came up with the idea and how excited guests were to get their hands on this little piece of culinary heaven. “We let everybody know ahead of time that it was just kind of a trial and error test run and we’d be doing a limited quantity,” said Allen. “About an hour before we opened that morning for the pop up, we had a full bar waiting for these burgers.” “When we started serving them we actually sold out in about 20 minutes.”

El Norte Kitchen also serves Sonoran-style burritos and hot dogs.

If you’ve never had a Sonoran-style burrito, know that they are worth waiting in line for, outside and around the block. That is, after all, the strength of the pop-up: stuff you can’t get around here anywhere else. Stuff like El Norte burritos, which start with specially ordered flour tortillas, arriving from Arizona, filled and then re-seared on the flat-top to give it a golden patina and crunch. The pop up also serves up Sonoran Hot Dogs, wrapped in bacon, seared, and finished with mayo, beans, and avocado; carne asada fries, perfect churros, and more —hungry yet?

Allen’s favorite burrito is the “California style”

“It’s kind of that all in one meal, you get your steak, you get your French fries, all wrapped in a tortilla. So that was my go to meal on drunk nights or early mornings,” shares Allen. “It was just that one and done.” The California burrito famously has steak, french fries, guacamole, cheese and beans all wrapped up in a bomb of calories and delicious goodness.

Find El Norte Kitchen in St. Paul, Minnesota. Follow their social media or visit their website to find out where they’ll be popping up next.

Basically Everybody Who Isn’t A Billionaire Is Coming For Bill Gates Since He Said He Couldn’t Live Off Of $7 Billion

Things That Matter

Basically Everybody Who Isn’t A Billionaire Is Coming For Bill Gates Since He Said He Couldn’t Live Off Of $7 Billion

Nicholas Kamm / Getty

The wealth gap between the world’s wealthy and, well, the rest of us has been amplified in recent years and particularly here in the United States. As the 2020 election nears, candidates across the political spectrum are ramping up their arguments and plans on how to combat income inequality.

In the US, the top 1% of Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 90%. This is an immense problem for America’s middle-class and is contributing the growing Social Democrat movement sweeping the country. Many candidates are releasing their plans and few have received more attention than Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In the interview, it’s what he didn’t say that spoke volumes.

Credit: Nicholas Kamm / Getty

Bill Gates, the second-wealthiest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $107 billion, declined to say Wednesday whether he’d vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president, given her proposed plan to tax billionaires at a rate of 6 percent.

And after a glib comment that he’d have to “do a little math” about what his net worth would be in a world post-Warren, the under-45 crowd had a few choice words for the 64-year-old Microsoft co-founder.

And the consensus is basically this: ‘OK, Boomer.’

Twitter did what Twitter does best and came hard for the Microsoft founder.

“I’m not Bill Gates, so his math is probably better than mine, but he’s worth 106 billion dollars, so if you took away 100 billion, it seems like that would leave him with SIX FUCKING BILLION DOLLARS,” Carter Bays, the producer and screenwriter, tweeted.

Another user tweeted it out just how insanely wealthy Bill Gates would still be even if Warren taxed him by more than $100 billion.

I mean, just let that settle in. Like should anyone really be this wealthy? Twitter doesn’t seem to think so. Others laid the blame with the media who have largely let Bill Gates lead his wealthy life without holding him accountable.

The responses — some earnest, some dripping in irony — highlighted the cultural rift between the baby boomer generation and its younger counterparts. 

And if there is a culture war, the phrase “ok boomer” has become its de facto rallying cry, a way to dismiss the more conservative politics that older generations represent.

Politics like, for example, not taxing the ultra-wealthy to fund social services.

“If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine,” Gates said on Wednesday during a financial conference hosted by the New York Times. “But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”

He also declined to say who he’d cast his vote for given the choice between Trump and Warren. “I hope the more professional candidate is the electable candidate,” he said.

To be clear, Warren’s proposal would not tax Gates’ wealth at a rate of over 90 percent, as Gates suggested.

It would be six percent for people worth more than $1 billion. Warren has said the revenue from that tax would fund healthcare for the entire country. Even Tom Steyer, the 62-year-old billionaire funding his own race for the presidency, weighed in.

“@BillGates, a wealth tax is the right thing to do,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “Don’t panic — you’ll be alright.”

But Gates is far from the only billionaire to bemoan Warren’s plan. Financier Leon Cooperman publicly sparred with Warren last week after writing in a letter that she treats wealthy people like “an ungrateful child.”

“Warren’s tax could cut roughly in half the fortunes of the very wealthy over its first 10 years. The aggressiveness of her plan should not be understated,” Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, tweeted this week. 

He later told Vox in an interview: “No group of Americans should be treated as a tool to raise the welfare of the rest of society.”

But for all those worried billionaires, don’t worry. The Warren campaign has released this handy calculator to show just how much they may have to pay.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign just rolled out a handy wealth tax calculator for any billionaires worried about what they’d have to pay under her proposed tax plan. 

The Massachusetts senator, who’s polling neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said she’d double her proposed wealth tax on billionaires from 3% to 6% to fund her progressive health care, climate, child care, and student loan proposals.

Under the plan, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would pay $4.249 billion. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who happens to be the richest man in the world, would pay $6.697 billion. And Bill Gates, who declined to say whether he’d vote for Warren earlier this week, would pay $6.379 billion if her plan goes into effect.

“Don’t worry too much about Bill Gates — if history is any guide, if billionaires do nothing other than invest their wealth in the stock market, it’s likely that their wealth will continue to grow,” Warren’s website reads.