17 ways to not be an asshole while travel is wonky and the world is understaffed (and undersupplied).
Some wisdom from my subscribers!
Yesterday I wrote a piece for my paid subscribers about my experience bonding with my fellow passengers during the hours we were stuck on the tarmac in Newark:
Nothing is working right now. Not retail. Not restaurants. Not hotels. Not air travel. Not schools. Not healthcare. I mean - it’s all fraying at the edges.
So here’s what I am thinking - let’s create a survival guide.
Because frustration, anger, and disappointment might be natural reactions to the fact that every sector seems understaffed and undersupplied but they do not serve us.
As the old guys in AA say, “how can we live life on life’s terms” right now? Because the terms have changed and there’s not a whole lot we can do to change that, but maybe there’s a lot we can do to bear it. So let’s start a list.
I’ll go first:
I can show lots of patience and gratitude to people in the service industry. Their lives are rough right now.
I can remember to bring snacks on the plane.
I can try and make difficult situations less difficult by being kind to those around me.
I can lower my expectations and then be thrilled when things go pretty well “Oh my goodness . . . I got 90% of everything I paid for in this Ubereats order…that’s pretty darn good!”
Ok, so what can you add?
Hang in there, friends. It’s weird out there.
Here ya go, folks - the responses were just too good not to share. There were 150 comments but here are just a few:
17 Ways To Not Be An Asshole While Nothing Is Really Working (Created By Subscribers to The Corners)
1. I try to think of everyone as beginners, because everyone is new at this combination of pandemic, economic disruption, political trauma, and spinning in the rage-accelerator that social media often is. So just as I hope I would try not to yell at someone learning how to make piecrust or tie their shoes or ice skate, I try to treat people well by thinking "they're just starting to learn this." - A.K.
2. When I travel, I bring enough snacks to share in case of delay. I play with kids or hold a baby so parents can take a break. -M.B.
3. It's a real sh!tshow out there right now. The Q is ask myself is, "How do I want to look back on my behavior 1/3/5 years from now?" (Was I gracious and kind, or something else.) Also, I try to do something positive - that I can control - with the negative - that is beyond my control. Flight delayed? Do something kind for the person who has more to lose than I do. -S.D.
4. Call service people by their names. Easy since most are required to wear name tags. Find something to compliment. Tell them that they did a good job. Thank them again using their name and tell them that you appreciated their help. Do it every time. Everyday. -D.
5. I've learned to lower my expectations so that now for those few times I fly, it's like, "wow, I'm actually on the plane and it's taking off only 10 hours late. Wow, I only have to spend one night in Phoenix because my flight was cancelled or I missed my connection because the flight was late." -K.W.
6. When you get that next item of bad news, take a moment and say to yourself, "there's no one without 100 miles of me right now to blame for this." And then don't. And if it makes you smile, make a note to yourself to find someone to blame when you get home. - J.L.
7. . . . and "there are more than 7 billion people in the world and I am letting one person get to me?!" - S.S.
8. Lately, when someone has been rude to me, cut me off, or they have treated me badly, I have started writing stories in my mind about what that person might be going through that I don't know. Often my "story" ends up with me finding a reason they might have treated me the way they did. Then, I end up feeling compassion and care for them, even though I completely made it up. Sometimes I even end up doing something nice for them or at least share a smile. Goofy, I know! But it works for me. -K.M.
9. Leave some water and snacks for delivery drivers. Write a thank you note to the drive through attendant, Waste Management, yard service, etc. - A.S.
10. When weighted down by negativity, make yourself look for the small graces and acknowledge them. Thank you that I didn’t fall when I rolled my ankle back there. Thank you that I found exact change for the machine. Thank you for letting me get to the bathroom in enough time. -J.
11. "By [tomorrow, tonight, next week, 2 hours from now] this will soon just be a memory, a story I tell." Like every other bad / inconvenient / annoying thing that has ever happened to me. They were miserable in the moment but just a memory now. -K.B.
12. Somewhere nearby is someone who is suffering more than I am. Maybe they are trying to get home to see their grandparent/parent/sibling/child for the last time. Maybe they have already seen someone for the last time and are now going home to be alone. I try to keep my eyes open for that person who needs some comfort and have it ready to offer. Even if it's just looking at another parent with two young kids like mine and say "I know what you're going through" -S.T.
13. I figure that a good mood can be just as contagious as a bad mood and besides, the airline (or other business) didn't get up that day and determined it wanted to make life miserable for as many people as possible - K.T.
14. I bring food, a book and my knitting everywhere I go. Those unexpected delays can become bonus time to do what I love to do. -L.H.
15. I can SMILE at people and call them by name, and say please and thank you a lot…even when I’d prefer to be hiding out in a blanket fort pretending the world as it is right now doesn’t exist. - E.S.
16. Self-pity blocks effective action. The more I indulge in it, the more I feel that the answer to my problems is a change in others and in society, not in myself. Thus, I become a hopeless case. - D.
17. We can tip a little more than we would ordinarily. - M.
If my writing here in The Corners has been of help to you in the last couple years, you can always show your appreciation by joining my paid subscribers who are all terribly wise, endlessly charming, and very good looking.
I am so grateful for this wisdom. I have not always been the most patient person and have sometimes confused “advocating for myself” with being a little shitty with folks in customer service and I am trying to repent. Lord, make me an instrument of your Zen. And if that’s too ambitious, make me just 10% less of an asshole.
Also, yes. Comment sections where people are kind and thoughtful are not a fairy tale. They do exist!
I learned from a friend how much nicer it sounds when someone says “I appreciate you” instead of “I appreciate it”. I use it all the time now and people are always pleasantly surprised.
I like number 13. I work for an airline. I won’t mention which one or in what role, just to say when things go wrong we don’t do it on purpose. Aviation is complex. 100 years ago flight was not possible for the vast majority of people on Earth. Now we take it for granted.
Maybe I can add a number 18 then? Be amazed at the miracle of flight ✈️