I have a really hard time with entitled people.
C.S. Lewis wrote about Pride/Conceit – saying “There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.”
Maybe I have a new – old problem. Maybe.
On my flight home from DC yesterday I really saw a wide range of humanity. There were all kinds of people, very interesting. I had a lovely conversation with the lesbian couple that I sat next to and generally I don’t talk to anyone on airplanes – I’m a real headphones on, eyes closed, don’t bug me kinda guy. They were just amusing, clever and outgoing people.
Our flight was late due to thunderstorms and so people were tired, hot, and a little frustrated. The air was rough and every seat full. There were 3 or so small children on our long flight continuously crying – parents feverishly walking up and down the aisles when the seat-belt light wasn’t on, just hoping nobody would look at them (man I have so been there). Then there was this one guy…
This one guy. I still can’t figure out exactly what his deal was… I had plenty of time on the airplane to really try to think through his motivations and understand how much pain he must have been in to act the way he acted. This guy came as close as anybody can come that I’ve ever seen to getting arrested when he steps off the plane. He wanted a different seat, on a full flight, on a Frontier flight where there are no ‘better seats’ and everyone pays about the same amount. He stood in the aisle and demanded it from a flight attended and easily stole 45 minutes of her time – refusing to sit down even when the seat-belt lights were on and arguing with her about how he needed a different seat. I really don’t know what was wrong with him. I think that people can’t act like that if they’re being rational and so the only explanations for irrational behavior I can come up with are substance abuse, pain, and mental disease.
The guy wasn’t really the “show” though. He was just a part of the show. The thing that I found MOST impressive – the show – was the flight attendant and how she handled him. He was so… unmanageable. I wasn’t in a ‘love everyone’ good christian mode… I was glaring hard at him from behind his head just waiting for my chance to tackle him. I honestly hoped he would turn his eyes and see me. I wanted a piece of his face and I was going to jump up and get it first the moment he assaulted the flight attendant. I was so offended by his attitude that I couldn’t see his humanity until quite some time after it all settled down. The fight I imagined never happened, because of how she so impressively handled him.
She was Grace in a pressure can – both literally and figuratively. She had so much patience for this guy. She just stood there and endured his ranting and waited for a chance to calmly, warmly, and lovingly explain the truth of the situation to him over and over. I watched as she appealed to his humanity and his rationality with her eyes, smile and genuine temperament. I listened as she patiently explained over and over that there wasn’t anything she or anyone on the flight could do to help him. I fully expected her to make up some kind of lie to pacify him like… promise him a free ticket when he calls customer service after the flight or something. She didn’t. She stuck to the truth, she explained that he has a right to choose whether he wants to fly on an airplane or not but that when you make that choice, you have to stick to the rules.
I saw a little piece of God yesterday in this woman whose name I didn’t even manage to get. About an hour after the event I managed to steal her ear for just a moment while she walked by my row. I said to her “You are amazing!!”. She smiled and said “I just told him the truth. That’s all I can do.” I died a little. I left that encounter embarrassed about who I am and who I am not.
Dear God – as me and my family continue to endure trials of your difficult people – of which I certainly am one – between blessings and joy – please oh God teach me more about how to share “Truth in Love” and not compromise anything along the way.