Things I learned while on vacation
Part the First – Wherein our heroine is reminded not to ascribe the worst possible interpretation to the scenario.
We had been traveling for fifteen hours, from South Bend to Chicago to Frankfurt, and only had one more leg of our journey to go — Frankfurt to Venice — when we were confronted with the ugly illuminated fact that our flight to Venice was cancelled.
I immediately went into “It will be okay gang! Mom will figure things out” mode and marched us over to the Lufthansa customer service counter. The line for “economy class” (yep, that is about how classy I am) was already filling out with other people I recognized from our transatlantic flight, so we hurried over to queue up.
There were four customer service representatives in European styled uniforms of navy with orange accents, including scarves. One was for the “elite” travelers who paid to have a shorter line. Two others were working S-L-O-W-L-Y trying to find alternate flights to Venice, and the fourth was reading a magazine.
What? No way! As the line stood still I stared at the fourth customer service person, willing her to look up and nod a weary traveler to her counter and help. But no, when she did look up it was only to stare out languidly into the distance, smile flirtatiously at a well dressed German baggage handler (yes, in Europe even the baggage handlers are stylish), and sigh in boredom before looking back at her magazine.
I could feel my face getting red. How could she do that? How could she just ignore us? What the heck?? Europe sucks! I was shooting daggers at this lazy no good Lufthansa lady when I realized. . . she wasn’t working for Lufthansa. That’s right. She was at the same counter, but the sign above her station was for some other airline. And apparently they had not cancelled any flights that morning.
Suddenly my temperature went down. My shoulders relaxed. The extra stress I was causing myself, above and beyond having our flight cancelled, was released and, though I felt a little foolish, I mainly felt grateful to have learned a lesson. Don’t jump to conclusions, especially not the worst possible ones. For the rest of my trip, I noticed when people around me made judgements based on what they thought was going on and how upset they let themselves get. I also reflected on the times when I could have interpreted things to be annoying or unfair, but when instead I recognized that I don’t always have all the answers or knowledge necessary to make that judgement, so I let it go.
Stress can be literally toxic to your health. Bad things happen. Flights get cancelled. Waiters ignore you. People cut you off on the street. But we don’t have to make things worse on ourselves by imagining we know the reasons why. Or, if we are going to imagine, why not imagine a good reason, give people the benefit of the doubt? It feels good to say No Thank You to more stress in your life.