Have I mentioned before that I travel for work a bunch? A great deal? Too much, at times? (Oh wait, that was Dave saying that.) It is usually not boring to travel across the US or to Canada, Mexico, and South America. Remarkably, my travel the last two weeks had been without incident. All planes were on time, if not early; all passengers seemed to be well-behaved; all flight crews seemed to be in good spirits.
Not so, today. I am traveling up to the Yukon Territory to work with the Yukon Department of Education, and have a couple of hops to get there. My first flight left on time and touched down about 30 minutes early. Yep, you heard it here folks, 30 minutes early. But sit back and listen to the rest of the tale.
We came to rest on the tarmac a little way from the gate. The captain said, "Since we are early, there is still a plane at our gate. They should be gone in about 20 minutes." Okay, well, being early can't pay off all the time, now, can it? So, we patiently waited and the passengers began talking quietly among ourselves. "Where are you headed?" "Hawaii" "Hong Kong" "Tokyo"
About 25 minutes later, we headed to the gate. People who had been tense before began to relax. A gentleman (at this point, he still was) behind me said, "Okay, I can still make my flight." We arrived at the gate and the unmistakable thunk you hear and feel of the plane stopping completely signaled all of us to bolt from our seats (as if getting up sooner will get me off the plane sooner). But alas, as we waited...and waited...we began to have the sinking feeling that this would not be Captain's last announcement. "Uh....folks...just to give you an update...the ground crew is having a tough time getting the jetbridge to get to the plane. They've called in supervisors to help." Everyone on the left side of the plane looked out the tiny little porthole windows to see three faces up against the windows in the door of the jetbridge, looking at the plane as if it were a foreign object. It reminded me of a thought I used to have about fish tanks----who is looking at whom?
Twenty minutes later came a new update: "Uh...folks....just to give you another update...the ground crew parked us on the wrong line by the jetbridge and we are going to need to be tugged over....(muffled chuckle heard from the flightdeck)...about one inch."
"One inch!! You gotta be kidding me!" (Sometimes I take narrative liberties and alter the language to make it family friendly. I may or may not have done just that with the last quote. Several passengers were outraged. Although we had landed 30 minutes before we were scheduled to land, many were now in danger of missing their tight connections, some to international destinations. As the minutes ticked by, it became apparent that getting a tug over to our gate was going to take a bit of time. People began ringing their call buttons to make suggestions: Let us just jump off the plane! Get that rubber slide out! I'll sign a waiver if you just let me jump to go catch my flight! and the hits just kept coming. After the tug came and pulled us over, people got up again and began jockeying for position again, although maybe not quite as much in "ready position" as before. Here came the jetbridge towards us, when it stopped...again...a foot from our vessel.
"No way!" people began calling out (that is the tame, G-rated version)
The captain came on again: "Uh...folks...I am really sorry to tell you this, but the jetbridge still can't attach to us. The tug is coming again to move us over to the next line."
The man (no longer so gentle) next to me called out, "There is a perfectly empty gate right next door. Why can't we go to that one?!!"
Suffice it to say, after arriving 30 minutes early, we got off the plane almost two hours later. A guy going to Idaho in preparation to help with forest fires missed his flight. A couple headed to Kona to help take care of the man's ailing mother missed their flight. So many more I didn't hear about... What would be the result? The airlines had to re-book over half the passengers on the plane. Luggage had to be re-routed. In some cases, hotel reservations and car rental reservations had to be altered or cancelled.
One inch! How can one inch have such an impact on so many lives?
All I can think is: that is one little blip in the universe.
How often does one little thing impact so many other things in our lives or the lives of others?
I came across this amazing and beautiful video about the wolves that were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. The story is so incredible because of the layers of impact the wolves had on the entire ecosystem in the park. Check out the "How Wolves Change Rivers" video to be amazed, as well.
After watching it, I challenge you to take a few minutes to think about how each thing we do and say in our lives impacts other beings. If this is true, perhaps we should consider our actions and communication a bit more before making choices.