On my way home from a recent business trip, I was frustrated, angry, and tired. After nearly eight hours of flight delays, I was told the last plane out of Chicago O’Hare was cancelled. Since this came after two solid days of major weather-related travel delays, all surrounding hotels were booked. Renting a car wasn’t even an option at that point. Whether I liked it or not, I was stranded at the airport overnight with thousands of others.
This wasn’t part of my plan. I wanted to be home with my family. It wasn’t fair. If only the airline had done something more for me to make sure I wasn’t inconvenienced.
Then, around 2:30AM I to met a man in Terminal 4. As we sat together, charging our overused devices, the man revealed he was on his way to St. Louis to see his mother. She had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and wasn’t expected to live through the night. Since he, too, was stuck overnight, it didn’t seem likely there would be enough time to return home to see his mother before she passed.
As I listened to him reminisce over amazing stories of his mother and his three siblings, I noticed he didn’t seem angry about his situation. Just sad for the fact that he might miss the passing of his mother. I don’t recall him blaming anyone else for his situation, or even sounding like a victim. And who could have blamed him if he did!
In that moment, my feelings of anger didn’t seem fair when I could reasonably assume my family would all be alive when I returned home. The worst thing that happened to me that night was a couple hours of uncomfortable sleep.
I was reminded of two important lessons that day. First, don’t allow circumstances beyond your control get the best of your emotions. Second, whenever possible, take the time to ask someone else about their story. You never know how their perspective may impact your own.