Fresh off a flight home to Los Angeles this past Monday, I’ve had the joy of already experiencing the terrible discomforts, frustrations and annoyances of holiday season travel. Airplanes are jam-packed with anxious parents, eager (but easily bored) children, business travelers, winter coats and oversized carry-on luggage. Despite what they tell you, the seats also feel a thousand percent smaller, and if you’re unlucky enough to get one of the old planes, the entertainment options are quite disappointing, if even viewable.
As I settled in Monday night for my on-time flight (a red flag already, I know), I reveled in the fact that Despicable Me 2, my in-flight movie was actually on my personal “to watch” list. Minions in any setting are very enjoyable and adorable, especially when they meep around in their own language and play with cute animated children with big eyes and even bigger dreams. I began to anticipate the film, the cranberry juice I planned to request from the flight attendant and the sleep I hoped to get.
But then something happened (as it always does): boarding was complete but the airplane sat there, as if it there were no plans to ever leave Newark. The announcement that followed shared that a faulty baggage handling machine had stranded twenty bags (and us) until further notice. No biggie, I thought. Remain calm, even if your butt already feels pancaked and stiff, and even if you’re already feeling all the terrible flight things that happen in stale air: greasy, hungry and sweaty.
Once passengers get wind of any deficiencies, people start to get restless, and the passengers on this flight were no exception. The kids in front of me started whining. “I’m bored,” one terrible young boy said, kicking his seat. The baby seated in the aisle behind me wailed lightly and then just flat out began screaming cries so anguished, I couldn’t help but look back to see what was the matter. The harried parents looked back at me, probably assuming I was judging them and their baby, but truly, despite how awful the cries were, I wasn’t. But it was hard not to react.
The person I was judging was the adult male sitting next to me. This guy had everything going for him: he had his girlfriend, his iPad, his snacks and his magazine all spread out and ready to go. But oh, it wasn’t enough for him. He had to start whining about everything. First, he was miffed at the baggage people—why would they wait for twenty bags when he hadn’t loaded any? Then his ire redirected to the baby, who, truth be told, cried only until he fell asleep and then remained silent for an entirety of six hours, which is magical for an infant in uncomfortable and unfamiliar surroundings. If this man’s complaints were translated into baby’s wails, I promise you they would’ve amounted to at least three hours of uninterrupted, ear drum damaging pain.
The thing is, I felt what the guy was saying. The delay was terrible. The plane was stifling and no one even offered us beverages or entertainment while we waited. Apologies were earnest, but still, in four out of four flights between my husband and I over the last week, all four had been delayed. A bit annoying don’t you think? But I realized then and there that there is nothing worse about being in a bad situation than when you’re constantly reminded about just how bad it is. Especially by someone who had everything at his fingertips and the alleged-maturity to know better.
So forget the babies and the messed up baggage machines and the bumpy rides and do yourself a favor. Focus on the things you can control up in the air and on the tarmac: your attitude. And remember, there’s nothing worse than a complainer.