A Question of Attitude
On Friday I was flying from Charlotte, NC, back to Los Angeles when I encountered a situation that, in retrospect, I handled poorly. I was in Charlotte for a 2 day sales conference.
First, my state of mind: I was tired. For anyone who has taken a trip from the west coast to the east for just a couple of days knows, your body clock gets out of whack. I was in all day meetings and got very little sleep. Because of the time difference I couldn't get to sleep until 2:00 AM and had to get up at 6:00 AM (3:00 AM, my time.). In addition, I have a hard time sleeping in beds that aren't mine. I was bloated, because I ate like a pig. And, I was looking forward to getting back to my family. In addition I have a mild case of claustrophobia. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind.
Second, the situation: The plane was full and I was sitting next to this girl of about 25. She seemed pleasant enough. After the plane took off she started to cough. It then became quite obvious that she was sick and progressively getting worse. She couldn't hide it and it became quite apparent to everyone around her. As people tend to do, no one said anything but all seemed just a little uncomfortable. She was quite sanitary and did her best to cover up every time she coughed. However, her coughing was incessant.
Third, my reaction: This is why I am writing this; I was obnoxious. I was so concerned about not getting sick myself that I spent almost the whole flight leaning into the isle (I had an isle seat and she was in the middle.) I feel horrible about this. I know that circumstance put me in that position and there was nothing that I could do to avoid being next to her. I was either going to get sick or I wasn't. That part was out of my control. However, the way I acted was totally in my control.
Fourth, in Retrospect: My state of mind was a reason not an excuse. I should have been more sympathetic to her condition than to mine. I may have been able to help her get through a miserable flight a little bit easier. I was selfish and un-empathetic. This reminds me just a little of my "Cookies" post. I deserve to get sick because of the way I behaved.
Fifth, lessons learned: We all have a tendency to be selfish and uncaring. I am not proud of how I reacted. Where I was seated was out of my control. What I was able to control was my attitude, and it was horrible. What do I now do with that knowledge? First, I must remember it so as to not act like that again. Sometimes it's a lot easier to "talk the talk" than to "walk the walk." Second, I must forgive myself so that this does not turn into a negative attitude that could affect future behavior. Third, I must show some type of penance. I believe writing about it; putting it out for the world to see that I can be a jerk also sort of covers the penance piece. In addition, the next time I have an opportunity to be extra nice, I will jump on it. In fact yesterday at my favorite place to spend money, Costco, there was a lady behind me who had 2 items and I had many, many, many, items; so I let her go ahead of me. It felt good.
airplane horrible attitude sick cough behavior penance incessant claustrophobia Charlotte conference sales pig
Sunday, August 26, 2007
A Question of Attitude