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Posted on Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Dave!Several years ago, I was at our small airport getting in line for security when I saw a soldier saying goodbye to his wife and young daughter. Both the wife and daughter were crying, but for very different reasons. The wife was crying because her husband was going away to do a very dangerous job from which he might not return. The daughter was crying because she was confused by what was happening. The soldier was not crying, but instead doing his best to comfort his family as he said goodbye. It was a heart-wrenching sight to behold, and I had an instant admiration and respect for this guy who was holding it together under conditions where even the strongest of men would break down in tears.

Smiling and waving goodbye to his wife and daughter who were across the room, the soldier walked through the metal detector and handed his boarding pass to the TSA Agent on the other side. I was next in line and followed him through. As we were waiting for our stuff to exit the X-ray machine, the soldier dropped his boarding pass but didn't seem to notice. I picked it up, and said "excuse me, you dropped this" as I handed it back to him. It was then I saw why he had dropped it... his hands were shaking. He said a quick thanks before gathering his gear and moving on.

It was a moment that kind of put it all into perspective for me.

So now, when I see people losing their shit because their flight has been delayed or canceled or whatever... it's pretty hard for me to be sympathetic when I think about a soldier who managed to keep his shit together as he was leaving his family to travel somewhere far from home where he might die.

Tonight as I was waiting to see if my flight would get out of Seattle (spoiler alert: it didn't) I saw plenty of people being complete asstards because their vacation and/or holiday had been ruined. There's crying. There's screaming. There's yelling. There's all kinds of dumbassery from people being generally stupid.

All when they should be thankful just to be alive and safe.

Heaven knows I try to be.

And tomorrow I try again.

Categories: Travel 2008Click To It: Permalink


  1. Wow, that’s really something to think about.
    Hope you can make it to seattle tomorrow mate.

  2. Mik says:

    And looking outside right now your flight may be a while happening!

    “Dumbassery” I have to find a use for that word.

  3. Sue says:

    What a great post today. I think this story will stick with me for ages. Thanks for sharing! Hope you get home OK, safe and sound.

  4. koehmstedt says:

    Very nice post. Thanks for the reminder that there is a much bigger picture than what may be happening in our own little world. I hope you make it home today. :o)

  5. Greeneyezz says:


    It’s a matter of putting it all in perspective.

    I had just read yesterday that they plan on sending 30,000 More troops over to Afghanistan next year! wtf?

    Dave, thank you for reminding others of the peril that our Service Men and Women are still in, on a daily basis. As that does seem to put into proper perspective, those who ‘lose their shit’ because a store ran out of a specific toy, etc.

    Ya know, there’s a real heart-touching story about our service men/women that I had posted on my site about 2 years ago, I think you might like. You calling attention to our soldiers made me think of it. I hope you like it.
    It’s called The Average Soldier, and it’s eye-opening to say the least.

    Dave, I hope your Christmas is a wonderful one for you, and you and your family are at home, in peace.


  6. Stacey says:

    Great post, Dave. I feel very fortunate that I have my soldier home for the holidays this year. Next year I may very well be the weepy person in the airport. Who knows.

  7. so well said, dave. it drives me batshit crazy when people lose their shit on people who didn’t create the problem, knowing full well that all the screaming and stomping of feet aren’t going to change the weather or make a plane magically appear.

  8. It’s posts like this that just make me want to burst into tears. Maybe because I can relate in such a way, as having sent my husband off on deployments several times.

    Thank you for sharing that moment with all of us Dave.

  9. A Lewis says:

    Ahh, you have to love perspective…..when someone “gets it,” and other dumb asses clearly don’t. I’ve seen it over and over, and you have too, obviously. Read my post today….it alludes to the same thing sort of. Portland is completely glazed over with a nice sheet of ice this morning. It’s not pretty.

  10. Lexxie says:

    I would much rather have my flight be delayed until the conditions are safer then still fly out and end up having my plane crash because something, anything, went wrong.

    I, of course, also live right by the airport.

    But even so, say, if I was stuck elsewhere, that would still be my attitude.

  11. Hilly says:

    It’s pointless to get so upset over things we can’t control. And seriously, even though I know all things are relative and that we have no idea what is going on in the head of others and why they are frantic, I always pause when I am about to get that way. Usually I stop and remember that there are people with situations way worse than mine (like your soldier) and try to breathe in then let it go.

    Thank you for this lovely story, Dave.

  12. Talena says:

    Dave, you rock.

  13. Jeff says:

    It’s all about what’s REALLY important. Most people don’t have a clue about that, thus the dumbass behavior about things that really don’t matter.

    Good luck making it out of there soon.

    Alive and in one piece.

  14. This is exactly why I live the way I do. Nothing matters as much as you think it does and there are so many people going through things that most people can’t even comprehend. I can’t imagine getting upset about the little things in life instead of just being thankful for all the things you DO have.

    (and this post is one of the many reasons I love you)

  15. I suck at holding it together at airports. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an asshole, I just hate goodbyes so I get all teary eyed especially saying goodbye to my family when I leave England for the US.

  16. DutchBitch says:

    People just seem to lose perspective I guess… I agree though, there’s way worse things in life.

    Hope you have a good time in Seattle for the week with your sister, even though it was not planned.

  17. Finn says:

    Sweetie you are simply better than most people. You have a wonderful heart.

    Hope you made it home today.

  18. ChillyWilly says:

    Any of us that follow your blog on a regular basis know the shit you have to deal with in traveling. Good to know (via Twitter) that you are sticking it out at your sister’s in Seattle.

  19. Sam says:

    hmm, that does put it into perspective somewhat!! It was a great post – everyone who feels like complaining about travel should be given a little leaflet with this in it!

  20. TWINKIE says:

    Unfortunately those that don’t already have that perspective will read this and think “aww how sweet” then bitch out the person behind the counter anyways.

    I love those life changing, eye opening “moments” though.

    Gaaaaaah. Was not expecting to tear up today.

  21. Sarah says:

    I never understand why people lose their shit when stuff gets delayed. I fly United which is never on time, ever and I see people get so angry over things they can’t control all the time. (ok so it was like the three times I’ve been on a plane).

    Usually I’m just glad I have a few more hours to sleep in the airport.

  22. the patient says:

    You know, I often just plain agree with you, up until today when the asstards at Kaiser Permanente did not honor the appointment that they made with me over the phone for my mom saying only “sorry, we don’t have an appointment in the system.”

    So let’s review. They called me in response to a voice mail from me and gave me the appointment over the phone, which I dutifully wrote down. A month ago. Based on this appointment, I went out of my way yesterday to pick my mom up and have her stay the night so that we can comfortably go to the appointment in the morning.

    And do I get something other than a vapid apology for their own error? No.

    So was I just supposed to say “no problem” and be thankful that I’m alive and well? I don’t think so.

    The issue is respect, respect for me as a human and not some system error or a number or whatever. Do something to rectify the problem. Don’t just say sorry. That is a Class A ticket to purgatory, because I don’t care about an apology for your mistake. I want you to do something to rectify the situation that demonstrates that you might actually respect me and my time and my efforts.


    I don’t think that is asking much, and maybe the asstards at the airport are also just seeking some respect. It is a two way street, and there is so little respect for others nowadays, particularly in the so-called “service” industry, which should be keyed on the customer as an individual not a number, a statistic, or something to be avoided.

    So if wanting respect makes me one of those overly entitled people who get annoyed at the drop of a hat, I am proudly an overly entitled bastard.

  23. lizriz says:

    This is a beautiful post. I’m always so grateful when life brings me moments like this.

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