I was in Dublin with work on Tuesday. Since we’re not allowed overnight stops, this entailed a 04:45 start to drive to Birmingham to catch a flight. It was a productive day, but as I actually didn’t get back through my own front door until a little after 9pm, it was also a very long one.
It probably didn’t help that our return flight was delayed. We were all boarded on time, but didn’t move until, about ten minutes after our scheduled departure time, four people boarded the aircraft with a load of shopping bags and made their way to their seats. As they were clearly the cause of our delay, their arrival was met with death stares from all the other passengers I didn’t join in. I was as anxious as everyone else to be on the way home, but I remembered a story that someone once told me:
This person was on another flight that was held up in similar circumstances, and when a very flustered lady finally got onto the plane and made her way to her seat, she joined in with the hate lasers. As the lady was about to sit down, the elderly gentleman in the seat behind her spoke up:
“Are you okay? You look like you’ve had a tough day”
This simple flash of humanity stood in stark contrast to everyone else’s petty impatience over a delay of a few small minutes.
I try to remember this, just as, when I’m stuck in traffic, I always try to remember that someone at the front may well be having a much worse day than me (we once sat completely stationary on the M1, grumbling, when an air ambulance landed on the road ahead. When the traffic finally started moving, the firemen were still cutting someone out of the wreckage.)
So, I kept that in mind as these four latecomers took their seats on the plane.
When we got off at the other end, the colleague that I’d been travelling with, who had been sitting in another row, waited for me on the bus before we went through passport control.
“You know when those four guys got onto the plane late? Did you see the bloke sitting next to me?”
“He was going absolutely mental. Apparently, he travels on this flight every week, and every single week those four same people hold up the plane. He was absolutely furious”
Ah. Sympathy withdrawn. They’re just selfish arseholes then.
Now that I think of it, they didn’t look particularly flustered or apologetic about the whole thing either. They also appeared to have been doing a lot of shopping, although quite why you would travel from Birmingham to shop at New Look and River Island in Dublin when you might just as easily have popped to the Bullring is beyond me. Take your time, eh? It's not like you're keeping anyone waiting.
So much for my patient, zen-like stoicism, eh?