A few months ago I traveled with some business colleagues to a meeting in the Midwest. Surprisingly, we all found ourselves sitting in first class. It seems that our travel agent was able to upgrade us for some reason…we didn’t ask and we didn’t complain. On the morning of our return we learned that only two of us would be sitting in first class while the other had been relegated back to coach. It seems that, yet again, our travel agent had worked some magic, just not as completely as before. I was one of the lucky two who would enjoy first class for the trip home. And, I never felt that good about it.
No switching was expected or requested and none was offered. In hindsight I wish the three of us would have agreed to put our boarding passes in a hat and do a blind draw. It would have been an easy and high-minded way to resolve an awkward situation. Further complicating the dilemma for yours truly was that the two of us riding in style were men (past tense indicating only that this happened in the past not that I have since lost that status…though, considering my choice you could argue that as well). Our coach-bound colleague was, of course, a woman. I located my smaller, more selfish self and made good friends with it. Chivalry, or what was left of its tattered body, died on that day, my friends.
Not long after the trip I read a blog post by Seth Godin called “Demonstrating Strength” in which he offers a list of attributes like “apologize”, “tell the truth” and “offer kindness.” It didn’t take long to find the one that was meant for me. It said: “volunteer to take the short straw.” Boy, did I ever miss a golden opportunity to demonstrate strength.
This morning in the Dallas airport, while waiting for a flight home with another colleague, I was bemoaning my seat assignment – I had drawn the dreaded middle seat. And, sold-out flight that it is, I was told at check-in that there would be no chance at a better seat. Resigned to my fate I explained to my colleague that it was karma at its finest, cosmic payback for my first class transgression, the story of which I then shared as if in a confessional. At precisely the moment I concluded my story (I swear to you this is true) my name rang out over the intercom: “will passenger David Berry please see the agent at Gate 34?” I looked at my colleague and smiled, she bearing a look of disbelief. Indeed, I was rewarded for my acknowledgement of failure; a window seat had opened up and it was mine. A small karmic allowance letting me know I was headed in the right direction.
As I approached the gate agent with my new boarding pass I leaned over to her colleague behind the counter and half-jokingly asked again if an aisle seat had become available. She laughed at my bravado, looked down at her screen and, sure enough, produced yet another new boarding pass.
I am typing this in 27D. Thrilled to be on my way home. Humbled to have learned my lesson. Grateful to be on the right side of things once again.
© 2010 David Berry