First Class Attitude

First Class Attitude

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

First Class Attitude

People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.

~Epictetus

A few years ago, looking to open an inspirational bookstore, a friend and I attended a booksellers’ course in New York. After a busy few days filled with learning and sightseeing, we were ready to get home to our families. We left the convention center looking to hail a cab with what felt like plenty of time to make our flight.

No sooner than leaving the building it began to rain. “A little rain never hurt anyone,” we thought. Besides we were about to embark on a business of inspiring people, so we couldn’t let a little bad weather steal our joy. After a short while with no luck finding a vacant cab, it suddenly dawned on us, “It’s five o’clock in New York City! This is rush hour traffic. We may never get a cab.” My friend then remembered she had saved the card of the van company that had driven us in from the airport several days prior. As the rain began to pick up we scurried to a nearby awning and gave them a call. Over an hour later, our van finally arrived and shuttled us to the airport.

We arrived at the airline ticket counter with little time to spare, only to discover the airline could not locate my flight reservation. We looked at each other in disbelief yet somehow managed to maintain a smile as we worked with the attendant to find a solution. Fifteen minutes before take-off we were finally able to resolve the issue. Doubtful of making the flight, yet refusing to lose all hope, we headed through security and made a mad dash towards our flight gate.

A sigh of relief came upon us when we arrived at the gate to discover the flight had been delayed half an hour. Not only did we not miss the flight but now we had a few minutes to collect ourselves and grab a quick snack before boarding. About twenty minutes passed and we eagerly headed back toward the gate. Much to our dismay however, upon reaching the gate we discovered the delay had been extended another hour due to bad weather in another state. Although we were tired and ready to get home, we refused to end our trip on a sour note. Instead, we decided to make the most of our wait and grabbed a nearby seat on the floor to relax and chat about our trip.

We ended up sitting near a gentleman who at some point joined in on our conversation. After a bit of talking, the conversation turned to the gentleman sharing with us some struggles he was experiencing in his life. My friend and I, being women of strong faith, were then able to share some experience, strength, and hope with him that we believe influenced him in a positive way.

My friend and I talked afterward about how delays in life can be frustrating, but you never know why they may be happening. There could be some underlying purpose for them that you don’t realize in the moment. Maybe it’s to alter your life course for the better, maybe it’s to afford you an opportunity you would not have had otherwise, maybe it’s to share hope with someone in need, maybe it’s to stop you from making a huge mistake, or maybe it’s to protect you or someone else from harm’s way.

We continued to sit and chat as announcement after announcement trickled in informing us each time that our delay had been extended. Being that we were sitting near the airline counter we also were able to hear passengers approach the airline employees and express their dissatisfaction and frustration. We were impressed with the empathy and style with which the airline handled each customer’s concern. I admit, at this point, we were fighting ourselves to not let the frustration get to us, yet somehow we managed to keep smiling. This furthered our conversation on how good it felt to make the most of the situation.

Well into the middle of the night, airline employees began bringing out refreshments to the passengers. My friend hopped up and offered to help. I jumped up after her, agreeing it sounded like a good idea. We then proceeded to pour cups of juice and water and offer them to weary passengers. We found ourselves sitting and sharing stories with some, while just offering smiles and encouragement to others.

Once all the passengers were served, we sat back down and continued our conversation. We talked about how great it felt to see frowns turn into smiles and how encouraging it was to us to sit and listen to others. We were truly realizing what it meant to look at the glass half full and what can happen when you chose to make the most of every opportunity. Life is going to throw you lemons sometimes. Will you make a sour face or add a little sweetener and drink up the lemonade? Sometimes we want so badly for our reality to change. Yet what we don’t realize is that sometimes in order for our reality to change our perception must change. We may not be able to control the things around us, but we can control our attitude and sometimes that makes all the difference.

As my friend and I sat and chatted some more, an airline attendant walked over to us and bent down. He thanked us for our help and told us how much the attendants had appreciated our positive attitudes. He then asked for our boarding passes, telling us the airline wanted to upgrade us to First Class! Shortly after exchanging our tickets our plane was finally ready for take-off. We boarded the plane with a new enlightened perspective on how big an impact our attitude can truly make.

~Mandie Maass

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