Another Flying Story


On my way home from Minneapolis to New York I was faced with several delays and changes.  But when you fly frequently, mishaps and delays are regular occurrences.  It’s simply part of flying.  That’s why having pre-check security clearance and flying first class is so important.  It makes journey after journey much more bearable.  Instead of arriving at the airport two hours early, you arrive an hour or less before your flight.  But sometimes even the perks are not enough to keep you from losing your cool, especially when other passengers can’t figure out how to board the plane or when they act uncivilized.  The following is one such situation.  On my flight from Minneapolis I boarded the plane first as I was sitting in First Class.  The flight attendant asked me if I was sitting in First and took my coat when I answered in the affirmative. Several passengers boarded after me and were all asked the same question.  Then boarded a man wearing a Nike hat and carrying his coat. When the flight attendant asked the man the same question asked of all the other first class passengers he snapped.  He said, “why would ask me that question because I’m brown?”  He wasn’t the only person who looked like he could be from the middle east sitting in first.  But he just lost it on the soft-spoken, male flight attendant who did everything he could to calm down the irate passenger.  I had enough at this point and came to the defense of the flight attendant.  The passenger then turned his anger towards me despite the fact I was trying to reason with him by explaining we had all been asked the same question.  He had misunderstood the flight attendant.  His response was “are you a psychologist” to which I responded, yes.  It spiraled out of control and appeared to be heading towards a confrontation which I absolutely wanted to avoid.  However, there’s nothing worse than flying with an unstable individual.  The only answer to end this conflict was to simply ask him intentions.  At that moment I realized by his eyes that he was all bark and no bite.  To the non-martial artist, peace through conflict is difficult to comprehend.  I told him I would never strike him first but mine would be the last strike. He then uttered a few words and sat down.  I said, “that’s what I thought” and “not every comment is racist”.  The flight attendant gestured and we took off.  He was sitting in the first row, I was right behind him.  His attitude changed quickly asking me if I minded if he reclined?  I then said to him, clearly you’re not looking for a battle so why push the envelope.  He then explained how he is often looked at as a terrorist.  I told him that acting crazy isn’t a way to dispel that opinion of him.  The point of conveying this story is twofold.  One, think before acting crazy.  Give people the benefit of the doubt before attacking them. Two, we shouldn’t stereotype people.  We can create or have already created volatile situations because of our prejudice and that must cease.  That doesn’t mean we should drop our guards but we should be careful about labeling people.

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