A simple handshake by Jimmy Carter is getting the big thumbs-up everywhere.
Make that a handshake times about a hundred, considering it extended to every passenger on a recent Atlanta-to-D.C. flight.
Carter had just boarded the Delta flight last week when, fellow passenger James Parker Sheffield reported, the former president started shaking passengers’ hands. All of them, one by one, as he ambled down the aisle flashing his familiar toothy grin and trailed by an attentive Secret Service agent.
Atlanta native Sheffield talked to WSB-TV about the down-to-earth-moment he tweeted video of on Thursday, complete with the hashtag #swoon. It’s since gone viral, with more than 8,200 retweets and nearly 22,000 likes as of Sunday morning.
While Carter can be heard joking at one point that it’s not his fault if they’re late, everyone eemed charmed to be greeted by the man from Plains (”I love you Jimmy Carter!” one woman called out). And the feeling clearly was mutual in cyberspace. Many of the retweeters commented on Carter’s genuine nature or the refreshing breath of fresh air this seemingly simple gesture brought to these increasingly sour times.
One commenter even took note of Carter’s signature piece of neckwear:
In fact, what Carter did last week was nothing new. He’s long made a habit of shaking his fellow passenger’s hands when he boards a flight -- even greeting an AJC reporter and his bride thusly nearly two decades ago as they were taking off on their honeymoon. It’s a sincerely heartfelt gesture on his part that also relieves the crew and security of having to deal with a barrage of in-flight requests from passengers wanting to meet the former president.
But this time in particular it seems to have touched a nerve -- in a good way.
"It's hard to put into words what a nice reprieve from the current political theater this moment was," Sheffield told WSB.