A couple of years ago in California a woman shook my hand and said, “Thanks for flying all the way out here to speak for our annual banquet. It all sounds so romantic … flying around, meeting people, seeing new places.” I smiled, laughing in my head. The meeting people and seeing new places is amazing. The flying part, not so sexy.
I flew to Kentucky last week. The landscape was breath taking, the people were some of the nicest ever, and the event was run like a well-oiled machine. Then, I had to travel home.
On the first flight, with the door closed ready to go, the captain came on to announce. “Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like there’s going to be a slight delay because of weather in Atlanta.” Silent pause. “Actually the airport has stopped all arrivals and departures, so we will be here for a while. I will keep you posted.”
After two more “I’ll keep you posted” announcements they opened the door and let frustrated passengers get off to get something to eat and walk around. Just about the time everyone got off, they were hustled back on again. Take off finally happened!
Being the busiest airport in the country, Atlanta services over 250,000 travelers a day. So when we landed there were enough testy people to fill a mid-size city. I made it to my delayed connecting flight in a different terminal only to discover the gate had been changed to yet another terminal. An hour later we boarded.
I smiled at the man next to me as I sat down and said, “Well, finally!”
He nestled his head onto his rolled up his jacket closed his eyes and said, “ Oh well. Low expectations. I just keep low expectations.” He was asleep in 45 seconds.
The door was closed when the captain came on to announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a passenger whose companion didn’t board so we are going to let him off. Thanks for your patience.” The entire plane groaned in unison as the companionless passenger ducked his head and made his way to the door. I though one angry guy was going to punch him in the face.
After the door was closed again, the captain came back on to say, “Thanks again for your patience. Honestly, these days if someone doesn’t want to be on the plane we don’t want him on the plane. Now let’s take off.” The man sitting next to me was now snoring.
As I opened my fifth bag of peanuts for the day, I thought about what my seatmate had said about low expectations. That mindset was serving him well. Actually the gap between expectations and reality is where stress lurks. The narrower the gap, the lower the stress. Maybe it would be good for all of us to say “Oh well” more often. And we might try to keep lower expectations of people, circumstances, and especially romantic travel. Then take a nap.