I’m writing this while on a plane from Phoenix to Oakland. It’s been a very long day. It’s 9 p.m. I started my day at 5:45 a.m and I haven’t stopped today. It’s been fun and wonderful, just “a lot.”
In addition to all this, I seem to have gotten food poisoning from the dinner I ate on the way to the airport. It’s been a long time since I’ve had food poisoning.
I was feeling progressively more nauseous as I approached security. Just as I got to the guy who was going to check my I.D, I could feel it. I was not going to make it another minute. I asked him, very abruptly, where I might go to throw up – like now. He looked a little panicked and then pointed out a garbage can against the wall. As I speed-walked over, I suggested to the couple standing next to it that they may prefer to move. After I let them know why, they moved very quickly away. Then I did. I was ill. Right there. Gosh. Such a private thing to do in such a public place. But it’s not like I had a choice.
Then I felt better. I walked to my gate, waited and got on the plane all while feeling notably better. Right until we took off.
Just after taking off, I could feel it again. So you know those little bags they have on planes? I found one right in front of me! And they are like magic. They are impermeable and seal up very well. Wish I didn’t know that, but now you know too. Just in case.
Okay. So that’s the TMI part, but it’s a necessary set-up for this.
Here’s the part where I wonder if I am delusional. It just so happened that right across the aisle from me was an angel. His name is Robert. This man is a Southwest flight attendant, still in his work t-shirt. This is a man who has already seen and lived through the full spectrum of everything that can happen on a plane. He knew just what to do to be loving and supportive. And he chose to do this. Okay – really – who has that happen? I couldn’t help but feel grateful while he handed me a second magic-when-you’re-ill-bag, a can of water and some napkins just when I needed them.
As soon as the flight attendants were up, he jumped up and ran back to the attendants’ station, got me a garbage bag, a sparkling water , more magic-bags and a huge stack of napkins. No one else could have done this at this point!
So should I feel embarrassed that I got ill on a plane? Maybe. Or should I be totally blown away by the fact that of all people to be sitting across from when it happened, I just happened to be across from an amazingly caring off-duty flight attendant. My very own food-poisoning-on-a-flight-angel.
Perhaps you can see how I question the sanity of my response to getting food poisoning with gratitude and humor. And yet, how could I not see the gift in this wonderful experience? The magic of a body that knows when something bad for it, and says “NO!” immediately and gets it away. (Very nice boundaries, body.) The gift of knowing, while in the midst of feeling terrible, slightly embarrassed, and sorry for my neighbors, that this was going to be a very funny story to tell later. The miracle of this man, Robert, the off-duty flight attendant angel, being just across the aisle from me!
I may be delusional, I know. But I had to keep the smirk from coming to my face as I sat back to take deep breaths after this. I knew if people saw me smiling, I might frighten them. But seeing all this good makes me feel better. Back in the day, I would have only felt angry at the restaurant, guilty about the people around me, ashamed…on and on. But certainly not entertained or grateful.
And now I am grateful for my response of feeling grateful, too! I am happy that these days I see the magic, miracles and gifts in the little things. And the big things. Today, I see things as big that I would have missed entirely before. My life is better because I am grateful.
Hey. I bet it’s also better tomorrow because I am grateful today .
Ever been in a situation that was difficult and had an angel there for you? Ever been in the midst of something difficult and knew it’d be funny later? Tell me about it.