So…I have two questions for you.
First, am I the only one who is weary of the Lord providing so many situations where He teaches me to be more humble?
And second, do you remember the great Southwest Airlines TV commercials which began with, “Wanna get away?”
Yesterday I got up early and headed to the Savannah airport, ready to join the Operation Christmas Child team on this distribution trip to Trinidad. But it wasn’t long before I was notified that my flight from Savannah to Atlanta was going to depart approximately 30 minutes late. Slight concern, but still doable as I had an hour and a half layover scheduled.
Everything was going great; I even received a business class upgrade for the short flight due to my frequent flyer status…life is good!
I then entered that dangerous place where a sense of “I am blessed” slowly slides into an attitude of “I am special”.
After walking away from the departure gate for a few minutes I returned to find they were already boarding; in fact the business cabin passengers were all on board. Everyone was anxious to get loaded quickly because of the late start.
I walked up to the “Priority” line and bypassed all those waiting.
As I got to my seat (seat 1A by the way) I realized there wasn’t much room in the overhead bin for my carry on bag. In fact, the bin doors were all shut. I opened the one across from me and saw my chance: a small opening.
And of course anyone who knows me understands that while the space was limited, I was determined to get my bag in the small hole.
I pushed and squeezed and finally got the bag in.
Now to close the bin.
It didn’t want to shut but I knew it would cooperate with a nice, firm shove of persuasion. I leaned back and pushed it closed.
Bam! The bin broke.
I called the attendant over, who showed the pilot, who then uttered the words that made me cringe:
“We’ll need to call maintenance.”
The collective groan from everyone within hearing distance was audible; the stares and angry thoughts directed at me were only slightly less noticeable.
Wanna get away?
My desire to cram my bag in the bin had now jeopardized everyone’s connecting flights in Atlanta.
For the next 30 minutes I sat in excruciating silence as we waited for the mechanic to show, waited as he secured the bin, and then waited as he filled out the necessary incident report (in triplicate, I think.)
Longest 30 minutes of my life.
The guy next to me sighed and swore under his breath. Said he would never make his flight now and kept sharing what a screwed up day it was. I apologized over and over to those around me but it didn’t make me feel any better.
I really think if I was 6 inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter a couple of them would have jumped me.
Finally after what seemed to be an eternity (or at least a really long time) the wheels began to move and we were headed for Atlanta.
I kept telling myself this will be funny someday but I also realized no one else on the plane would ever laugh about it.
Then, unexpectedly the older lady behind me (who had been just as upset as everyone else when it first happened) gently touched me on the arm and said, “Hey, it’s OK. You didn’t mean to do it. Jesus loves you.”
Honestly, my first thought was, “Yes, but he’s the only one who does around here.”
She was trying to be nice but…I did mean to do it. Not break the bin, but I did mean to show everyone I could get my bag in.
It was pride…ego. And now everyone was suffering for my hubris.
But the truth is her words helped. I still REALLY wanted to get off that plane but her kindness made a difference. Her simple words in some small way soothed my soul.
Thank you ma’am, for demonstrating compassion. I didn’t deserve it.
Thankfully, I made my connecting flight by ten minutes. I hope everyone else did too. But the Lord used this experience to humble me and He used this kind woman to remind me of the power found in simple, kind words spoken in love.
I’m really, really thankful for it.
And from now on the flight attendant closes all overhead bins.
“…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” – Galatians 5:6
Dave, GREAT WELL WRITTEN story. Have you thought about compiling 100 stories or essays like this into a book?