Recently I had to fly. On a plane.
I hate planes. It has never stopped me from traveling which I love to do, but I hate them.
The cramped spaces, the minuscule meals and snacks which cost more than at a movie theatre or ballpark, the inferior seat belts (I want the kind pilots use), and the veteran crew members who seem so dissatisfied with their jobs, it all makes the experience stressful for me.
Plus, and this is mostly what it is about, I think exploding in midair from a silly loose screw has got to be one of the most senseless ways to die.
But I love an airport. I love getting there hours before my flight, checking in, buying a book on a topic I know nothing about and reading for awhile before the stress of the flying machine.
This time, though, an eager Jet Blue employee told me that because I arrived three hours prior to my original flight, that I could catch the next plane, leaving in 20 minutes.
For most people this would simply be an extraordinary stroke of luck.
Not for me.
I told him absolutely not. “I enjoy the airport experience,” I said. But then my mind was consumed with this thought, what if this earlier flight is the flight before the horrible plane crash on this thunderstorm day? I know kooky, right? But play along . . .
So I changed my flight and rushed to my gate.
As I approached security (and do not get me started on what my libertarian (small “l”) streak thinks of the TSA), the line was longer than it was at Studio 54 on a Friday in 1978.
I began to sweat and my heart rate elevated which I found fascinating. I took three deep breaths and decided to walk back to the desk and get on my original flight, and stop this madness.
When I returned, to my horror, my check-in guy was gone. Was it all a nightmare, I thought?
Instead, a very tall (no joke at least 6’-5”) and strikingly beautiful woman in one of those orange reflective vests saw how nervous I was and asked if she could help.
When I started with, “You see, I am a very nervous traveler and I would just rather be on the flight I paid for,” she stopped me and proclaimed, “I will get you on that earlier flight, just follow me!”
Then I chuckled and realized how silly all my thoughts of airline disaster were and how they affected me. I decided to let go and let her take the lead. I love a strong woman!
She proceeded to whisk me through security, practically ignoring all the meany TSA “agents” (what is this the CIA?), and took me right to the gate. To the gate! She even got me a seat with the extra leg room.
All the while she was patient and calm and so professional. Plus she informed me throughout this experience of exactly what she was doing and asking me several times how I was holding up.
If I were straight I would have proposed to her right then and there, I tell you!
For sure, part of this loving feeling was my lifetime penchant to be treated like a prince. But heck, this amazing employee found a way to trump my irrational and anti-statistical fear of flying. She found a way to make me excited to board a plane.
She was a very kind, extremely professional gentle heroine who probably works too many hours for too little salary. Yet she went above and beyond the call of duty and probably rarely even gets a “thank you.”
I am grateful. Grateful she made me feel special at a time when air travel actually makes me feel like a presumed al Qaida operative, not a trendy jet setter.
I am also grateful she helped me to calm down and see things more clearly. Both flights obviously landed safely (the new one and the original).
And my silly preflight scheming was unhelpful and just grounded in fear.
Great customer service, Jet Blue!
Thank you to my tall knight in shining, orange armor.