One of the themes in the novels is how people are turned against one another. Our emotions are often manipulated by what the media has to say, true or not. But I experienced something recently that showed me we don’t need any outside influence to show the ugly side of human nature.
I was on a flight home from Hong Kong with a brief stop-over and plane switch in Toronto. It wasn’t an unusually late flight, although it would have arrived relatively late. There were a few delays once we boarded which caused us to be at the terminal long enough for some severe weather to move in. This meant that the ground crew had to go inside until it passed. After about an hour, we were finally ready to roll.
We were out on the tarmac, and the plane stopped for what I know is an unusually long amount of time. After a little while longer, the pilot came on and explained that they were getting a maintenance message on the screen and had been trying to resolve it with maintenance via radio. Unfortunately, they could not, and the plane was going to have to return to the terminal.
This is where things start to go bad. Our lead flight attendant was asked and indicated that we would probably all be able to stay onboard while the maintenance team came in and took a look. Once we were back at the terminal, the pilot informed us that ‘HQ’ felt it was too late for us to take off because of all of the delays and that we would have to de-plane. Naturally, there were no other flights out home that night.
These situations happen. They are rare, and this was actually one of the very few times that I have had a canceled flight like this. Some passengers were irate and, since the pilot was safely locked behind a steel door, there was only one viable target for their fury.
I had talked with the young flight attendant, and this was her second to last day on the job. She was already leaving the business to go find something else. Honestly, that is the airline’s loss as I found her to be very good at what she did. She took all of that vitriol from the passengers and didn’t lose her cool. She was near tears as the last of the more mobile passengers left the aircraft (I am usually the last one off,) so, I felt I needed to talk to her.
I told her that at my age I’ve experienced so many things that it isn’t possible to remember the tiny bumps in the road. This was just a bump in her road. In a year, she wouldn’t know what anyone was talking about if they brought this flight up. While we can never just concentrate on the joy in our lives, we can let the stupid, minor issues slide by. I told her she was very good and very professional at what she did. I also said to her that whatever she did next, if she carried that same professionalism with her, there was nothing she could be but successful.
This isn’t hyperbole. I meant and still do mean every word I said. Those angry people were afraid. They were asking themselves, what do I do now, where will I sleep or how will I get home. I know, I asked myself some of those same questions. The difference is, I knew it would work out. No matter what happens, I have absolute faith that God is in control, and He wasn’t going to leave me just stuck sitting in a dark airport all night. I was right.
I am home now, a day later than expected, but so what? If it had been a life or death case, I have no doubt that the airline would have found a way to get me here sooner. Airlines are run by people, and most of them are kind and compassionate. You will always find the one or two who are so disillusioned and hate what they are doing that they really don’t care about the customer, but airlines live off of excellent customer experiences, not bad ones.
As for all those angry people, I have no doubt that they eventually made it to where they wanted or needed to be. Some are probably still angry, and that’s too bad. My question to them is, did the flight attendant control the weather? How about the maintenance issue, was that her fault and would you have rather flown with a possible mechanical failure looming?
None of us alive on Earth today is perfect. That was reserved for One. Still, don’t you think that a little understanding might not have gone a long way? Why make one of the last days this young woman was working to ensure the safety and comfort of every man, woman, and child aboard that aircraft a bitter experience?
Have a good weekend everyone.