“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
Dr Wayne W. Dyer
I was reminded of this famous precept last Friday evening at the airport. My son and I were flying to Phoenix for my daughter-in-law’s memorial service. I arrived at Michael’s apartment in plenty of time for our 8:10 flight, and by 5:00 we were standing on the curb waiting for the car he had ordered.
We waited. Michael called the car company and they assured him that the car was “minutes away.” We waited. No car. He called again.
“What! They’re not there yet? I’m sending another one,” the dispatcher said.
Another 15 minutes. Now we were worried. We waited five more minutes and knew we couldn’t wait any longer. We got in my car and headed for the Belt Parkway. At 6:00. On a Friday evening. Before a long weekend. Traffic was moving at a snail’s pace.
While Michael was driving, I was on my phone looking for other flights in case we missed ours. Nothing. There were no other flights leaving from anywhere in the New York area that would get us to Phoenix in time for the service. Finally we decided that I would drop Michael off at the terminal so at least he would make the flight.
After I dropped him off, I parked in JetBlue’s short-term parking garage. The trek from this garage to the terminal is a long one, and I ran as fast as I could. By 7:40, sweating and out of breath, I got to the check in counter. I explained to the man that I had given my credit card to my son so he could get his boarding pass and could he please help me. He gave a cursory glance to his computer and said, “You’re late. Check in is closed.”
I tried to be calm and said, “I know I’m late, but I have to get on that plane.”
“You’re too late.” With that he turned from me to another customer.
Frantic, I ran to the other end of the terminal, hoping to get a different answer from a different person. With the clock ticking, I explained the situation once again. This time, the woman very calmly picked up the phone, then started typing. I held my breath as she continued to talk to the person at the gate. Within minutes, I had a boarding pass in my hand and she was walking me to the part of security where late arrivals are moved to the head of the line.
I think I thanked her at least 20 times during our short walk. People in line ahead of me with later flights let me go ahead of them, and I got through security in record time.
Running once again, I arrived at the empty gate at 8:00. The attendants there assured me the plane wasn’t leaving without me and I didn’t have to run. The flight attendant on the plane took my suitcase, stowed it for me, then showed me to my seat.
The look on my son’s face when he saw me walking down the aisle was full of amazement and relief. Because I was so late, my seat had been changed, so I couldn’t sit next to him. But that was okay. We were both on the plane.
After all that, we ended up being delayed. They were still refueling and stowing the checked baggage after I was in my seat. We made it to Phoenix and the memorial service was lovely. But I would have been devastated if I hadn’t been there to support my son through yet another very difficult day.
I’m not sure why the first person I talked to was so unwilling to help me. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just grateful that someone was willing to help me. And I hope the next time someone asks him for help, he’ll do the right thing, and choose kind.
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