The first leg of my flight from BNA to DFW had just landed when the intercom broke the silence.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are having electrical difficulties with the jetway bridge at our gate,” the flight attendant said. “We will have a slight delay before we can deplane as they try to fix the problem. We appreciate your patience.”
We were already a few minutes late and now the clock was ticking for me to get across one of the largest airports in the country to make my connecting flight. I was headed home for the holidays to the beautiful mountains of Ruidoso, New Mexico, where I grew up. With only three commuter flights a day that fly into a nearby town, if I missed this flight, I’d have to wait another seven hours before getting on the next flight.
Sprinting through the airport between the crowds of holiday travelers, they heard a voice yelling from behind as I approached… “To your right! To your left!” This is a common courtesy warning among us snow skiers when speeding down the mountain faster than the skiers in front of you. Running with my carry-on spinner luggage in hand, I felt the need to voice a warning to the other travelers.
It was 2:45pm, just 10 minutes before my scheduled departure, as I made it to my connecting gate. I could see the plane was still there, yet no passengers appeared in the gate area. Out of breath, I gave my ticket to the attendant.He smiled and said “I’m sorry, we’ve already closed the door to the plane. Hum…. let me see what we have on our next flight out.”
Standing there bewildered, out of breath and furious, I looked out the window at the plane that I wasn’t allowed to get on. My adrenalin was high and now my blood pressure was climbing. I was ready to give the attendant a piece of my mind when I remembered that you can’t have a meltdown in the airport. I didn’t want to make the TSA “No Fly List” or go to airport jail. He booked me on the next flight out at 10:20pm that night. I was completely deflated.
This delay not only affected me, but it also affected my mother. She was picking me up at the airport and was well into the 90-minute drive to get me. She too would have to figure out what to do with herself until I landed very late that evening.
Sulking, I wandered the terminal trying to figure out what to do for the next several hours. I soon found myself at the MAC makeup counter for some overpriced retail therapy. Then, after some deliberation, I purchased a day pass to American Airlines Admiral’s Club.
After finding the perfect spot to lounge, I plugged in all of my electronics and tried to decompress for a bit. I walked up to the bar.“I need a drink,” I said to the bartender. “I’ve had the worst travel day ever,” as I rolled my eyes and exhaled.
“Oh gosh, I’m sorry” she replied. “Did you just get in from Atlanta?”
She was referring to the highly publicized Atlanta International Airport power outage that stranded thousands of passengers, grounded at least 1,500 flights and had paralyzed the world’s busiest airport over the past few days. Unknowingly, her words punched me right in the gut with a much-needed reality check.
“No…. I did not,” I said slowly. “And I thank you for that perspective.”
With a glass of Pinot Grigio in hand, I went back to my over-stuffed leather lounge chair. I had plenty of electricity, food, drinks and all the amenities I could want for the next few hours as I waited.
I sat there for a moment, mortified. I had no real problems. I was safe, warm and healthy. What did I truly have to complain about? She had just given me what I needed most in my time of self-pity.… perspective.
Her words had a profound effect on me far beyond my travel dilemma. As I thought long and hard about that, I realized that we all need a good dose of perspective in our daily lives. When we think about our own situation, problems, stress and things we want to improve upon, we should remember that no matter what is going on in our lives, that someone else has a worse situation that they are dealing with. It can always be worse. I had a bit of an awakening in that moment of reflection as I knew there is true pain, suffering and illness in this world.
As I considered my New Year’s resolution, I decided that I need to be continually aware of the many blessings God has provided instead of concentrating on life’s occasional trials. For me, this year will be about trying to see situations with a clear perspective and to live daily with gratitude. Life is such a gift and I want to live with a heart of thanksgiving. I remembered a quote that has become very relevant in my new outlook for 2018 that I’d like to share.
“When we are thankful, and also when we express it to others, we are happier. People who express gratitude are not only happier, but have more energy and have better outlooks on the future. They are even physically healthier, have fewer physical ailments than those who don’t express gratitude. They have less emotional and psychological maladies as well. Also, they show more relational capacities and are less envious and less materialistic.”
Henry Cloud, PhD – Author