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Several years ago, I was traveling from New York to Indianapolis by air. Realizing a severe storm was moving from the west which could delay my flight, I went to the airport early to try to catch an earlier flight.

Upon arriving, I was amazed to find about a hundred people in line for the ticket agent. After standing about an hour, I noticed an airline supervisor working his way toward me while talking to the customers. When he got to me, he asked to look at my reservation and then directed me to go outside the terminal to check-in at the curb.

Following his directions, I went to the curbside check-in and waited in a shorter line. Finally, I reached the attendant who took my information and punched on the keyboard. He told me he couldn’t check me in and I needed to go inside. I informed him I just left that line and a supervisor sent me outside. He looked past me and proclaimed, “Next!”

I was instantly angry with his attitude, got back in the line in the terminal. Then I was at the end of the line, again. Occasionally, a supervisor would shout, “If you are on a flight leaving within the hour, come to the front of the line.” This put me at a stand-still, and I was still in line when the earlier flight left.

Eventually, my frustration turned to anger. Others were furious and shouting and nearly rioting. I could tell the customer ahead of me was losing control. He said he was going to unleash on the ticket agent. Finally nearing the head of the line, I could hear customers loudly complaining to the ticket agents. My anger began to fade as I saw the effect it was having on them.

They were trying their best but receiving a lot of abuse. My anger continued to fade as I wondered how I would feel if I were in their position. The man ahead of me was called forward at the same time I was called to the agent next to him.

As he threatened, the irate man began to unload on the ticket agent. I looked over to see the poor ticket agent trying to be courteous while taking the abuse. This didn’t calm the upset customer at all. I noticed my agent glance occasionally toward the fiery, loud customer then look back at his terminal to avoid eye contact with me.

When I realized he was afraid to look at me for fear I would explode too, I softly commented, “Looks like you’re having a tough day.” Then for the first time, he looked up at me, and his facial muscles relaxed.

“It’s terrible. Management just doesn’t have enough agents to handle this many person,” was his frustrated reply.

I responded, “Yeah, I’ve been in this line for over two hours.”

It didn’t thrill me when he announced, “I’m sorry, I’ve got bad news. Your flight is delayed two hours.”

He cautiously looked up to see my reaction as the customer beside me continued his rant. I tried to suppress my frustration. Then I remembered his apology and replied, “I really think you mean it when you say you’re sorry. I bet your airline is sorry, too. Do you think they are sorry enough to bump me to first class?”

After punching on his keyboard, he smiled and exclaimed, “It looks like they are! You are now booked for first class to Indianapolis!” We both grinned as he handed me the first-class boarding pass. I departed the counter at the same time as my fellow traveler. He was still fuming, but I felt better. On our flight, I ate steak in first class, and he ate peanuts in coach.


Caring for an Alzheimer patient can be frustrating and lead to anger. One night my mother got up fourteen times. Eventually, I snapped at her. It hurt her feelings, made her angry, and later I felt guilty. When I remember her condition and be compassionate, we both win.

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. Proverbs 15:18 NASB

© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn