Glass Half Full: Patience a virtue, especially during holiday travel |

Glass Half Full: Patience a virtue, especially during holiday travel

Our older daughter is a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, for whom she has worked for over fifteen years.

Periodically, she shares what she calls Friday Stories, frequently filled with humor, occasionally focused on some of the stresses of the job.

As I write, I am living a Friday story: sitting on the tarmac in Denver, where we have been for the last two hours. United, not Southwest, but weather does not discriminate.

It appears we will be the lucky ones. Theoretically, we are about to push back from the gate — if a ground crew can be located to do the pushing. It’s 2 a.m.

The line of passengers whose flights have been canceled, patiently waiting for an available agent at the United desk as we boarded, literally stretched the length of the concourse. Denver concourses are long…

On an intellectual basis, I know that our daughter and her flight attendant colleagues work hard. The job also comes with plentiful benefits, and it is those on which most of us usually focus.

We consider airlines jobs from the perspective of benefits, not from that of cold, snowy nights when the fate of flights remains more on the ground than up in the air.

As we wait (patiently or not) for our flights to be announced, for our luggage to be loaded, for the push crew to back us from the gate, for those at the de-ice platform to perform their duties, it is easy to concentrate on our own inconvenience.

Perhaps, we should be more cognizant of those who are dealing with our frustrations (some expressed with polite resignation, some railing at circumstances way beyond the control and above the pay grade of the professionally polite souls searching to reroute hundreds of travelers).

We should be very glad that we are not the grounds crew, struggling against winds and temperatures well below freezing to facilitate our travel, while we, at least are warm and dry.

We should appreciate the flight attendants who quietly roam the aisles and offer water and quiet reassurance to those who grow more crabby by the quarter hour.

And if we aren’t traveling; if we are cozily at home in Incline Village while storms rage outside and we are worried about the condition of the roads, are we stopping to think about the men and women driving the snowplows, working on downed lines, pulling cars out of ditches? Probably not.

Unless we have recently been pulled from a ditch or allowed a snowplow to guide us over Mt. Rose, when otherwise we would not have made it, we probably take those folks for granted.

In this holiday season, when major travel and major weather often collide, perhaps we all should be more appreciative of those who work every day, usually remarkably cheerfully and patiently, to facilitate our travel, whether it’s in the air or on the ground.

Let’s be thankful for small blessings. At the moment, I’m glad we aren’t accompanied by small children…

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at

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