First Class Jerk
Two days before Thanksgiving and I’m sitting at an airport awaiting to board the first of two flights on my way home. I’m bemoaning the fact that Delta does not have a direct flight from Denver to Omaha (only 8 hours away) resulting in having to fly through Minneapolis. Talk about going around the barn!
I’m already tired and it’s still morning. My grumbling is interrupted by an agent’s voice coming over the loudspeaker announcing that my flight has been overbooked and they are looking for people willing to give up their seats. In a moment of serious delusion, I find myself contemplating how nice it would be to get a free travel voucher–with a family of 6, any little bit helps. Then my better judgment kicks in as I quickly scan the pandemonic frenzy around me so commonly associated with holiday travel. It dawns on me that if I give up my seat so close to Thanksgiving day, who knows when I might get home and what multi-route journey I’ll have to take in order to do so. With that thought, I hold fast.
A few minutes later, our plane arrives and the passengers begin to deplane. I notice that those getting ready to board are so anxious to get on that they are crowding around the agent’s desk effectively blocking the exit lane from those who are trying to get out. Once again, the agent’s voice is heard over the sound-system explaining that the plane just arrived, passengers need to exit, and the plane needs to be prepared for the next flight. Politely, he asks the crowd to step back. Step back they do, but only about a step. I think to myself, this is going to be a long day.
As I take in the scene, I see prime offender #1–a middle-aged man who is at the front of the line. Why don’t you step out of the way, I think. It’s not like you’re going to lose your seat or make the plane depart more rapidly. Sadly, here is where my profiling begins. Surprisingly, I immediately dislike this fellow and think, what a jerk! Directly after the last passenger exits, he promptly moves into the first class line and makes his way to the very front only stopping because the agent has blocked the way with the do-not-cross ribbon. I think, great, and he’s a first-class jerk at that!
A short time later they begin to board those who need a little more time–passengers in wheel chairs, parents with small children, etc. And that’s when I see her. She’s a young lady who seems to be somewhat challenged. She approaches the agent’s desk clutching her ticket with a death grip. I hear her inquire about when to board. The agent takes her ticket then kindly explains that they are boarding first class and Sky Priority and that she would need to wait until her zone is called to board. It’s clearly evident she does not understand. A female agent standing nearby says something like, “don’t worry honey, just stand right over there and I’ll wave at you when it’s time to board.” The girl turns away with a confounded expression while tightly holding the ticket with both hands and physically shaking. She steps to the side a few feet. As I observe her, I feel righteous indignation swelling in the depths of my heart and want to scream out “why don’t you just let her board with the others that need more time?” But I keep quiet.
Minutes later, and with a great smile, the agent pulls back the ribbon allowing my “favorite person” to board. But he doesn’t! Up to this point I have been feeling rather incredulous at his pushiness, the crowd’s lack of patience, and the agent’s want of compassion. But nothing prepared me for what happens next. Mr. First Class Jerk holds up his ticket to the agent and says “I’m flying first class and I want this young lady (pointing to the young girl who had just been denied early boarding) to board with me.” What? I was floored. With a smile, the agent agrees and lets her board first. All of a sudden, I find myself rooting for the jerk. Way to go man, I thought. Humanity has just been redeemed by one simple, kind, Thanksgiving holiday act. I never would have thought it, but this guy turned my belly aching around and brought a smile to my face. When it was all said and done, he was the hero and I was the jerk. Thank-you Jesus for humbling me.
1st Samuel 16:7 “. . . For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”