I got caught up in my inheritance a while back, and ended up feeling a bit ‘put upon’ by the course life has taken. I’m definitely not above that feeling of indignation that comes when someone takes something I believe to be mine, away from me…
As I prepared to board the plane home from Alaska, I stopped at the airport shop and purchased a bottle of water, since I couldn’t carry one on from home. I knew I’d be thirsty and the night flight would offer no drink or food service. In fact, it would offer no services at all once we were in the air. The lights would go out, and from Anchorage to Phoenix we would be required to sleep silently (no snoring please) or stay awake staring into the darkness hoping we didn’t nod off and snore loudly.
But, with the delay, I sat in the terminal waiting for my flight to be prepared.
My daughter had dropped me off at midnight and I waited patiently to hear that she was home safely, checked facebook a time or two, but most everyone on my side of the planet was pretending to sleep – or ignoring the fact that I was sitting in an airport bored out of my everloving mind with three books, plenty of music, and a cell phone filled with video options to keep me busy.
Normally, I might have ignited a conversation with someone near me, but nobody near me seemed interested in talking about anything, and two of the people near me were angrily communicating their dislike of delayed travel arrangements over their cell phones with someone on the other end. I tried to ignore the conversations by burying my face in a book I wasn’t really reading.
After a while I got thirsty and reached into my bag, pulled out my water bottle and took a long swig. That was pretty good, so I took another.
Back to my book… I nosedived into the fifth chapter and found myself flipping pages like a maniac to find out what happened next. The man who had been the loudest on the phone bumped my elbow when he sat down beside me and I turned slightly in my chair to stay out of his way, but I didn’t look up.
Within moments, I noticed that he’d leaned forward, picked up a bottle of water and taken a long drink. He didn’t put it back. I simmered a bit. Checking my bag with my foot. Yup, still there. And the other bag was under my arm, being used to steady my book. I flipped a few more pages, missing every single word on the page. Finally I marked my page and closed the book. I reached down to pick up the bag by my foot and dropped my book inside. Sure enough, my water bottle wasn’t there.
I looked at the man, aghast that he’d taken my water bottle, but said nothing… (Remember, I heard him on the phone.) I picked up my bag, stood up, shouldered my purse and walked to the other end of the waiting area, where several young moms were seated with small children. At least, I could be entertainment for babies. Grandma’s are good at that, you know!
Two hours later, the call to board, sent us onto the plane.
The man with the water bottle was proudly holding his bottle in his lap, now half empty, in the seat right next to mine. I rolled my eyes and lifted my bag to the luggage area, sliding into my seat with my purse tucked into my lap. Seated on the aisle was not the most comfortable, and I would much rather have had a window seat so I could at least look down on spots of light, or snow, as we flew over the darkened land below. But, I was on the aisle.
When the lights went out, I noticed he’d taken another long swig, and wished I had my water bottle. But I did not. I struggled to stay awake, at one point nodding forward, I awakened myself with a long level snore – my own – and jerked upright in the seat. Certain that everyone else on the plane had heard me, I refused to close my eyes again. Instead, I struggled with the thought of that man drinking my water, while I sat there thirsty.
We landed in Phoenix 4.5 hours later, and I rushed to get to the next leg of my flight, LAX. No time to buy a bottle of water there, and I ended up sitting beside that same man, still holding my water bottle the entire flight to LAX. Almost an hour flight. Tell me, how can it take a whole hour to fly to LAX when it only took four and a half hours to fly from Anchorage to Phoenix? Well, it did.
In Los Angeles, we exited to sweatshop heat, and the realization that due to a bomb threat we had to WALK to the next concourse where we’d board our plane for Denver. Fortunately the man with my water bottle was going a different direction, and he didn’t end up in the same long line of people waiting to get through security for the flight to Denver.
I placed my bags and shoes on the conveyer belt and walked confidently through the x-ray machine, fully expecting to grab my shoes and bags on the other side, and make the five minute mad dash as fast as this fat girl could roll out the concourse to my next plane, now only fifteen minutes late. But, no… Not a chance.
“Mamm, you have a bottle of liquid in your bag. You may either drink it or toss it. But it can’t go through security.” The guard explained.
I looked, opened my purse, and sure enough, right there where I’d put it when I got done taking my first and only drink from that bottle was my water bottle. Even after tossing it, because there was no way I could drink a two liter bottle of water right there, and not float all the way to Denver, I ended up being fondled and searched by TSA – because there’d been a water bottle in my bag.
After being searched, tossing my bottle, and feeling the painful humiliation of the past two flights, I arrived for the last leg of my trip to a plane being held specifically for me, only to be sent to the far back of the plane, seated on the aisle in the tail section. Fortunately a young mom with two little ones were seated with me on the flight, and we chit chatted about babies, toys, and I read books to one of the toddlers to help mom during the flight. I at least felt useful.
But… Water Bottle.
I was so caught up in the indignation of that man drinking from my water bottle, that even after I found my water bottle, I felt the pain and guilt of being angry for days after. And because that as my last flight, even now… Three years later, when I think of it, I feel horrible for being so upset over the water bottle.
The thing is, this is the way we handle perceived mishaps in the way our inheritance is handled. Whether it’s really the case, that someone took your inheritance, or perceived, when we become bothered and overwhelmed by the behavior of others, we miss the blessing that we might receive if we were just grateful for what we have.
Sometimes that lack of acceptance and gratitude overflows into our professional lives too. Think about it… Are you feeling the gratitude you should feel today? Are you expressing it to others?