The 35,000′ View
I’m homeward bound – from Dallas to Indianapolis. I’m in seat 3A – that’s the window seat in the first row of first class and I’m told we’re flying at 35,000′. It would be nice to have a little more leg room, but seeing as how I expected to be writing this post from the Admiral’s Club in Dallas, I’m pretty excited that I’m looking out the window at a beautiful sky with clouds down below. That’s pretty much the end of the story – it all worked out and I should be home several hours sooner than I thought I would. But the backstory is the lesson of the day.
I spent yesterday and most of today in Oklahoma City, teaching a client team about sales strategy and how they can improve their presentations. The team had a great time and so did I. One of the things that made this special is the fact that our youngest daughter, Jill, is the leader of the team and so I was able to spend the last two days with her – a real bonus. But it seems that every time I am in Oklahoma City, something delays my plans.
Last time, for example, I was at the airport, trying to get to Dallas, and the flight ended up being cancelled due to excessive winds in the area. I was dog tired and one of the gate supervisors, Jennifer, was terrific trying to find me an alternate route home. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful and I finally ended up back at the hotel, without clean clothes, and spent another night in OKC – I left on the first flight out to Dallas the next morning. As I went through security, at something like 5:00 am, a TSA agent ran a cart into a 14′ tall glass door and there was a loud explosion as the safety glass shattered and showered me with glass. Security shut down the lanes and I was there, in limbo, while the agents tried to figure out what happened; and what to do with those of us who were covered with broken glass. Remarkably, nobody was hurt.
Finally, I was escorted through a secondary, back-room security area reserved for military troops returning to active duty. I made the flight, and as I went through the gate, Jennifer warmly greeted me – she must have pulled two shifts together. She was delightful – and I was grateful that she was the one on duty. The evening before I had witnessed people abusing her – but it wasn’t her fault that the plane was grounded. Too often, people blame the folks in the terminal – but Jennifer was a superstar.
Today, I arrived at the airport several hours ahead of the flight to Dallas. As I walked past the departure board, I noticed that there was a flight to Chicago that connected to a later flight to Indy. Wow! A chance to get home early. I went to the gate and who do you think was there? Yep – Jennifer… I remembered her and once again, she was really anxious to assist me. It turned out that the flight was already pretty full, and due to an error on the field, the flight crew had topped off the fuel tanks on the jet and it was now 160# overweight – and I wasn’t even on the plane yet! So much for that plan – if I had boarded we would have still been on the ground… As I walked away from the gate, I heard them talking about removing someone from the flight. I wouldn’t have wanted to be around when that happened – poor Jennifer… more abuse around the corner.
Anyway, I thanked Jennifer for trying to assist and headed down to the original gate I was scheduled to depart from. We took off for Dallas on time and when we arrived at DFW, I noticed that I had an outside chance at an earlier flight home. Once again, the terminal crew did wonders and got me on the flight – still in first class. So here I sit – ready to get home a little early.
Now I haven’t told you about the other stuff going on in the Will Rogers Airport in OKC. There was the strange little man who kept walking backwards and then forwards, like he was practicing dance steps in the middle of the waiting area. He was in a suit and tie, no less. Then there was the strange couple murmuring along the wall. Eventually, the man instructed his wife to pull out their prayer rugs and sure enough, right there in the airport, he faced east, knelt down, and went through his prayer ritual. She followed right along, but behind him several yards away. I don’t know that I have ever witnessed this before, from beginning to end. Then, dutifully, she packed up their rugs, he pulled out a comb and began to brush his long, somewhat shaggy beard… You just never know what you will run into when you are travelling… I can learn a lesson from Jennifer, because it wasn’t just once that she was kind – it is a way of life for her. What a blessing!
Today really drove home the point that these airline workers must see every imaginable thing, and even when they are on the ground they tend to see things from 35,000′. Rarely do I see them get caught up in petty arguments. When I flew less frequently, I think that I had a lower tolerance than I do today. Yes, I would have loved to have flown early through Chicago – and yes, I was prepared to sit in the club for three hours before I boarded my scheduled flight for home. But throwing a tantrum wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. I have learned to be more accepting and patient. Am I always that way? What do you think… those of you who know me are laughing hysterically right now!
And it’s not that I don’t have anything to do when I arrive home. I am swamped with work – but it will be there tomorrow. The verse for tonight is from Paul – in Phil. 4:11-12, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Believe me, I’m not there yet, even if Paul was. But I aspire to his level of contentment and that is my encouragement for you this evening as well. Try to be content whatever the circumstance. My prayer is that God will honor your effort and maybe send you a little surprise, somebody like Jennifer, who exemplifies what it means to lead a life of service and helpfulness for those of us who are weary travelers. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… from 35,000′.