One thing that I can say from my experience as a flight attendant is that bad days do exist. Although most days are pretty awesome— just gallivanting around the globe— the bad days do come and when they do, they can be extremely exhausting. Coming from someone who considers himself an extremely positive person, getting into ruts like these has caused me to be negative, angry, and frustrated. Lately, it seems like these days have been happening more often than not. I was frustrated with my airline, disgusted with the disrespect I repeatedly was getting from customers, and to be honest; just over it. I felt like I had lost my purpose for flying for my major airline. Then something happened; The Angel in 22B. The Angel in 22B changed my entire perspective on— not only my job— but my entire life.
It was a Sunday evening. I was already over the day, and it was only half way finished. As the crew approached our gate, after swapping out aircrafts, we noticed the inbound aircraft was delayed. Therefore, we wouldn’t be arriving at our destination until about 2am. I sat at the boarding area— surrounded by hundreds of frustrated people and said a prayer in my head.
“Lord, why am I here? Why am I still flying for this company when I don’t even want to be here? Lord, I am frustrated! Please help me find purpose with this job again. Amen.”
About 30 minutes later, the crew and I boarded the aircraft to do our pre-departure checks. As quickly as we could, we boarded up all 135 people and were on our way. I was moody while I began taking the drink orders for my rows of passengers, barely looking at them or caring what they said. I was just ready to get to my layover. I then approached row 22.
The lady in the aisle asked for a water. I looked to the window seat to ask the man (whom was about my age) what he would like to drink, but he kept looking out the window. I figured he couldn’t hear me because he had a noise canceling headset on. I reached over and tapped him on the shoulder. “Would you like a drink, sir?” I said. Without looking up, he shook his head no. At that moment, something felt off to me. At first, I just said “Okay” and walked away, but then I had a twist in my gut. I knew I needed to do some more investigating. I walked back and noticed him reach up to wipe a tear from his face. I wrote on a napkin, “Are you okay? If you need someone to talk to, I am here for you.” He just shook his head no, again. I grabbed him a water, set it in the empty middle seat, and walked away. I walked to the back of the plane to finish cleaning up after my service. I was packing away snacks when I get a tap on my shoulder. I turn around, and it was him. With big tears in his eyes, he reached out to give me a hug. Stunned, I dropped what I was doing and gave him a hug. It is very rare that you have customers talk to you, let alone reach out and hug you. Silence filled the galley. He looked up at me and said “Thank you… My mother just recently died, and I cry all the time. I cry everywhere I go and nobody has ever stopped to ask me if I was okay. Thank you so much.”
My heart completely shattered. I am so extremely lucky. I have a healthy, happy family, and I am just sitting here complaining about my job, as if it is so terrible, when others are having real problems and real hurt. I felt so terrible. How selfish of me! I was at a loss for words and could only get out, “I am here for you.” He soon went back to his seat, leaving me in the galley and just stared at the wall. My heart was in my stomach. I was impressed that I still needed to do something else. I went back to his seat and asked him to join me at the back of the plane. We sat down, and I looked at him and handed him my card. “I don’t know what you are going through.. I couldn’t even imagine, but I do know that I am here for you always. Whenever you need me, I am here for you. If you just need someone to talk to— call me, text me whatever it is. You always have a friend.” Big tears started building in his eyes, and he just kept thanking me. I asked him if he would like to talk about her; to share pictures and memories. He then started sharing stories about his mother. He showed me pictures of this beautiful woman, who unexpectedly passed in her sleep. We laughed, cried, and hugged some more. We talked about life, faith, and purpose.
“I love to fly. When I fly I feel like when I look out the window up to the sky, I know my mom is right here with me,” he said. (I made a joke, so I wouldn’t cry in front of him after that comment). “I actually think that she is sitting next to you in 22B, because the seat is empty. I am sure that is because she would be really pissed if they let someone sit on her.” We laughed. I saw in his eyes a bit of happiness restored. Isn’t that a reason we exist on this earth? To love others and restore as much happiness as we can around us?
After he went back to his seat, I sat in the galley corner and just cried. Remember, I prayed for God to show me purpose. He showed me in the most beautiful way. He revealed to me my heart. I am in the position to love at every moment. Yeah, bad days suck, but someone else could be going through something much worse. I learned to not just love one specific group of people, but to love everyone regardless of who they are and where they came from.
My message to all of you is this:
If you wish to see a world full of love and less hate, It starts with you.
Be the ear to a person who just needs someone to talk too.
Give out free hugs like your life depends on it.
Just be the light in others darkness.
In aviation, we always say, “Stop, Think, and Focus.” We stop, think, and focus to get our jobs done correctly. Whether it is arming the slides on the aircraft, dealing with emergencies efficiently, or creating a positive Crew Resource Management throughout the flight. In life, I learned I now need to Stop, Think, and Focus on those around me.
To stop becoming numb to the world that is going on around me.
To stop and take the time to focus on someone who just needs someone to care.
I feel God put this young man in my life for a purpose. I was not only able to share an incredible moment with a total stranger, and hopefully help restore joy in his life again, but I was able to find purpose for my job—which is to love on people. At the end of the day, this is the most important. To stop, think, and focus on those around which is most important at the end of the day you. We all have the power to change the world, but change starts with you.
To the Angel in 22B— fly high my dear.
Corporate flight attendant and entrepreneur, Griffin jets all over the world and currently calls New York City home base. You can find Griffin at @TheJourneyofaYoungGun