Sir, are you priority?


Ever been questioned by the guy standing behind you in the boarding line who thinks he’s more important than you? Just happened again this morning while wearing my $1100 suit with my Priority tags hanging from my bags. I didn’t get out of bed at 4:30am this morning, meander into the nearest airport, and somehow sneak pass security to get lost in the priority boarding line. I belong here.

What’s the point? A little more common courtesy could be the difference between calm and calamity. My self esteem is high. So I just turned around and answered, “Absolutely!”

The thought-less affront was no more of a distraction than a fly hovering before me… it was a mild irritation…fodder for the blog. But it could have been a blow out. You never know the mental state of people standing alone minding their own business. It’s a coin toss. Are they hoping to be left alone and to go unnoticed? Or are they wishing that someone like you will be discourteous so they can rain down every curse known to mankind upon you. You might check out what Steve Harvey says about wishing and hoping. And here-forward proceed with more caution.

But really? Is one more spot ahead of the line at the beginning of the boarding process with assigned seats really worth the risk of a blow up? The person you tee up to may be as obnoxious as you are.

Even 3rd graders know that trying to “hop the line” is just plain rude.

This election season

If this election has done one thing, it has revealed the true nature of every person who purported to be color and gender blind while working in the shadows with eyes open. Not since the civil rights and suffrage movements has there been such an open clash of ideology where race, sex, gender, religion, and national origin were on the front line. Jim Crow, nepotism, the good old boy system, religious piety, and racial superiority are being paraded about as though they are not rooted in the same ignorance, arrogance, social depravity, self proclaimed elitism, and fanaticism that has threatened to collapse the constitutional pillars of this great union by undermining the very foundation of human decency that our inalienable rights are rooted in. It’s not just trash talk. It’s trashy people talking. Therein lies the danger. And although our constitution allows for discord it holds no place for fear mongering and social racketeering that exploits the powerless, the young, the old, the weak, the ill informed, and the outright gullible!

What a wonderful surprise!

I had the opportunity to visit with my sister and her family in Bonaire, Ga so I took it.  We ate and we laughed, laughed and we ate, then we laughed, followed by more eating.  It was a good reunion.  We went to some old favorites like Cracker Barrel.  And we also ventured off the beaten path and tried Shark’s Diner and The Oil Lamp.  A bad meal was not to be found anywhere.  Thank goodness!

After we settled in last night we watched old family videos, including a few family experiments with Wasabi.  I admit I did threaten to call CPS at least once.  But since the videos were old and the kids have fared well I will let that be.  After that my niece, Dávonna asked me to sing with her.  If you know me, you know I don’t get asked to sing.  No surprises why not.  I can carry a tune with a bucket…but since I didn’t bring one with me on the plane, I did more howling than wowing.  But that’s okay.  We had fun.

Just before she went to bed she wanted to sing one last song on her own to close out the night.  That’s when I found I was only the opening act and not the headliner.  Her voice was so melodious and her singing so effortless that I felt like the kid who’s parents forced him to get participate in the talent show even though his only talent is that he is the only kid who has no talent.  And on top of that he also has the bad luck of singing just before the best singer in the whole show.  Not to mention he’s older, balding, and fatter than the 15 year old natural beauty who happens to also be a genuinely nice person.  Not a thing to hate!

Well, you can guess what happened…I was floored.  She sang beautifully and did it unceremoniously as though she was in a world all alone.  You know the world I am talking about…the one where only people will real talent belong.

It was the last thing on my mind as I slipped away to sleep.  I’ll stick with writing and public speaking…things I can do reasonably well.  And I will leave the singing to her.

May she continue to have the desire to make beautiful noise!

See for yourself:

American Airlines Flight 2408

I’m the guy in seat 9c. The guy who got to the airport early, followed all the rules, including boarding with my group, bring one piece of luggage, stow it over my seat, and wear your seat belt

Then why am I upset? I was unlucky enough to sit next to the guy who got here late, couldn’t find space over his head for his luggage, and refused to take it further to the back of the plane where there was space. Instead he insisted that he be allowed to place his bag in the overhead compartment in First Class. He was advised by the flight attendant that First Class was full and that he could not put his bag there as all passengers in that section were not boarded.

So what did he do? He threw a tantrum. It started out as just pouting which consisted of him standing up while the luggage was in his seat. It escalated to him huffing, asking me to excuse him…which I did, and him marching up to First Class repeatedly opening and slamming overhead bins while moving the First Class passengers luggage around until he got his to fit. He topped that off with the final slam and the brisk walk back to his seat. By this time he was visibly fuming.

To one of the flight attendant’s credit, who I saw look aghast as the tirade was ensuing, she walked back to row 9 and politely asked him if there was an issue and could she in any way help him with it. After a tense 30 seconds, he finally responded that there was no issue in a very low voice. As a follow up, she did inform him that should he decide to take that kind of aggression out on any part of the airplane again that there would be an issue and that she would promptly report it to the airline authorities. To be honest, as I was seated next to him I would give her a high mark on how she handled the situation.

But here is where the situation went wrong…

That flight attendant went back to the front of the plane and communicated with the rest of her peer group…both ground support and the other flight attendants. As I had the aisle seat, I watched all of this unfold.

The ground support personnel comes back down the aisle looks around and starts to get aggressive with me. As you can imagine, I was appalled. How dare she come and project her frustrations with me rather than say a word to the gentleman who causes all the huff in the first place. I have to be honest. I was ready to get off the plane and never, ever get on another American Airlines flight again in my life. And I plan to be living quite a while. But then I thought to myself, the pen is still mightier than the sword. I won’t fight, I won’t allow my mood to be changed, and I won’t disappoint my sister who is expecting me to visit. But what I will do is to tell my story to everyone in my network in the hopes that they won’t have to share a similar experience.

When I go to a restaurant, I go to eat good food, but I also care about the ambience. It matters to me where I eat, what I eat, when I eat, and how it is served, and with whom I eat.

When I buy a plane ticket, 99 percent of the time I buy American. I do that because I am platinum, I get priority treatment, most of the time I am TSA Pre-check, I get upgraded a fair amount of times, and I usually can get an aisle seat. Now truthfully, I am low maintenance. If you ask others that know me they will tell you that I believe in treating people very well…in my home and in public. If I fix your plate at dinner, I probably cooked it myself–with love and served it generously. I don’t always get that kind of treatment and I don’t expect it. That’s how I do it.

Now, there are many airlines to choose from. And I often have heard just that as part of American’s in-plane pre-recorded announcements. And to be honest, some are cheaper, much cheaper. But I don’t choose them. I make the choice to pay more because of the past experiences I have had that have satisfied me as a paying customer.

I have to say that I am disappointed. Flat out disappointed. Now is this going to ruin the rest of my trip or the rest of my life? No. But I tell you what it will do. It will make me think twice about making the American Airlines choice the next time I get ready to make a purchase. Honestly, I had already bought tickets for three future trips before I ever stepped foot on this plane.

What’s my final message to American? No competitor can erode your loyal customer base as effectively as you can. So by all means, uphold FAA regulations, adhere to company policy, keep us all safe, and get us to out next destination on time. And if that means that people are asked to leave the plane for demonstrating behaviors that are at odds with those objectives then I say so be it!

But for the vast majority of us who are just trying to get from point A to point B, treat us with the respect that we have come to expect on the airline that purports to be American. Live up to your name.

If you have had something similar happen to you share your story.

Caring comes before carrying

As a rule, you don’t carry the flag until you care about the cause. Shifting an organization’s paradigm from apathy to engagement requires a significant amount of energy. Developing a change plan, though complex, is not nearly as difficult as convincing others to embrace your vision. That is the crux of leading through transitions. The challenge is to get the team to answer your call and to move them into action. For that, you need team engagement. There are many definitions for engagement. Here is mine: The process of expanding the ownership of a target, goal, or strategy in a manner that aligns both the hearts and efforts of each member of the team. To achieve this transformational state you must clearly and persuasively make your case for change.

You can start by explaining why change is needed and is more desirable than the status quo. When people care about the cause they will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure a project’s success. True ownership is not limited. Owners measure success by what is achieved rather than by effort expended. They relinquish selfish thoughts for more selfless considerations. Synergy is unleashed. And the sky transforms from a limitation to an open expanse for discovery and further accomplishment.

How well have you explained your cause? Is it one worth carrying? Are you shouldering a fair share of the load? Do your actions align with your stated cause? Are you fully engaged? Are you aligned or just in line without purpose?

Being bitter doesn’t make you better

Each of us has experienced disappointment, hurt, and frustration. As we are human, we are not immune to these emotions. What separates ‘the better’ from ‘the bitter’ is the ability to forgive and move forward. Bitter people have never really forgiven. They say they have, but their actions reveal that they are stuck in that moment.

Why serve a life sentence recounting and reliving a past infraction when you already hold the key to your freedom? Learn from the past, but don’t try to drag it into the present. If you do, it may ruin your future. When you forgive you release yourself from bondage, bad thoughts, and ill feelings. Forgiveness is not for the other person. It is for you. Take the time to assess your relationships and minor acquaintances. Where you find bitterness, apply forgiveness liberally.

What’s holding you back from being better?