Life Lessons from a Bad Passenger

airliner window
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The universe is testing me. On repeat. Clearly a lesson has yet to be learned but the powers that be are skimpy with instructions.

On yesterday’s Bubble Hour episode (with Guest Heidi Ferrer), I related my most recent travel woes of getting stuck in a snowstorm and spending the night on an airport floor. I was quite pleased with myself for remaining calm and polite, despite the difficult circumstances. After all, I was not alone. Hundreds were in the same situation and the tired masses were generally congenial. The few who were not definitely stood out.

I’ve been thinking about one woman in particular on that trip. As we sat on the tarmac for hours on end, she got on her phone and was making sure her friends knew she was unhappy. Then she started demanding alcohol be served. She told the beleaguered flight attendant it was the least the airline could do for us poor trapped passengers.

Hours on the tarmac is no one’s idea of fun, but bringing out the booze would make my life more uncomfortable, even as it made hers supposedly more bearable. I am not sure what worried me more, being trapped an an airless can with booze flowing all around, or how much louder this woman might become with a few drinks to loosen her up. Thankfully, we were let off the plane before the serving commenced.

Presumably everyone who got on the rescheduled flight the next morning was equally tired. We’d all been through the same ordeal and we’d all done our best to catch a few winks in an airport designed for movement, not rest. Guess who was behind me? The same woman, only more irritable now.

Unfortunately, we were again stuck on the tarmac and again her phone came out. Again there were loud conversations, this time with shouting and tears and drama drama drama. I was trying not to judge her but she was making it hard! We finally took off, however, everyone with a connecting flight would need rerouting, which meant at the next airport most of us found ourselves together in yet another line.

Guess who was at the front of the line, shouting at the service agent? Mmmm-hmmm. Same gal. The worse she acted the more I felt determined to stay calm.

And do you know what happened next? A supervisor came out and told the woman, “Here, come with me.” She led her away from the crowd, keeping her arm around her shoulders and took her to a quiet spot. I watched as the supervisor nodded and listened to the woman under her arm, who was soon sobbing and quiet. She had just needed a little kindness, to felt heard and seen.

That situation offered two lessons. First, that a little kindness goes a long ways. And second, this got me thinking about the lines we draw for ourselves, the permission we give ourselves. If X happens, it is okay to do Y.

I think it is worth examining our beliefs around this. Do you have unconscious rules that nullify your own standards? What about your sobriety? Do you have things in mind that could “justify” a relapse? Cancer, infidelity, your sisters wedding?

We don’t drink no matter what.

Here I am travelling alone again, this time to help host a SheRecovers retreat in Mexico. And once again, I have had significant disruptions and will now be travelling overnight, arriving a day later than expected. I am staying positive but I’ll admit my smile was through gritted teeth a time or two today.

I am so tired I could cry. In fact I did cry, just a few tears of frustration when no one was looking. Shhhh.

My husband texted: Make the best of the situation…keep your head up…you are helping all you meet this week. That nearly made me cry for the second time today, but the other kind of tears. The good kind.

 

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13 comments

  1. I was pouting this weekend about missing out on the SheRecovers trip ( it was sold out long before I got my act together to book it ) however it sounds like that was the flight(s) to miss! I’m not sure I would have been as gracious. Thanks for reminding get us to look-calmly-at the big picture and accept that there will be some days that test us beyond measure. Enjoy the sun,and and surf….and hopefully a blissful flight home!

    Day 886 🌻

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  2. “What about your sobriety? Do you have things in mind that could “justify” a relapse?” Oh, this makes me laugh because it’s so timely. Last night I attended my first sober party in a bar to celebrate my dear friend’s big birthday. I got asked to make the birthday toast. A couple months ago this would have felt like the universe begging me to drink but I laughed if off, whispered to the bartender, and made the toast with lemonade and it was fine. Today I woke up to my 99th sober morning. I love reading your posts, Jean. They feel honest and thoughtful and offer so much hope to us newbies. I’m so glad you made it out of that airport.

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  3. Hi Jean! No doubt you have arrrived at your destination, with all of this behind you. I have encountered many situations such as this also. Most times I chose to justify my situation, only to feel worse, because I DID nullify my standards, and let myself down. Double whammy!!!! Now, at 6 days short of ONE YEAR SOBER I use these situations as learning curves so to speak. Another chance to examine my “reasoning” to pick up a drink. With every “test” I got stronger, because alcohol solves NOTHING.
    Have a wonderful retreat! xoxoxo

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing this and for your eloquent, vivid writing. We are all there with you as you describe the detail. Most valuable of all is how you drew the metaphor to “unconscious rules that nullify our standards”. Those of us new in sobriety are highly vulnerable to that. For goodness sake, I almost justified “1” beer last night just because it was the appropriate beverage with burgers and I had worked hard all day, and it’d be “just 1”, blah blah blah (did not partake thank goodness). I am so THANKFUL for your message here because I know there are enormous challenges looming, travel delays, weddings, funerals, etc. Hang in there and have a wonderful retreat. The blessing of your presence on our last retreat at Kripalu is still vivid in our minds. Your blog and Bubble Hour and SheRecovers retreats are what launched my sobriety and now I am thrilled to be A-F Forever.

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  5. I do think letting out those tears of frustration help it pass.
    It IS frustrating.

    I am a,ways happy to see a post from you. I can imagine everything you wrote. Travel can be su unfun sometimes.

    I love you. You are a shining light. Enjoy the sun.

    Anne

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