Saturday, November 7, 2015


'Thank you for your patience'.  I lost count of the number of times we were thanked on our flight home.  Waiting in airports is highly topical and hearts go out the holiday makers stranded in Egypt. Our trip back from the US was less news-worthy but proved highly irritating.
Having packed up (four) suitcases, cleaned our room, washed sheets ready for the next visitors we prepared to say goodbye.  In Chicago it was a glorious day for travel - clear blue sky and temperatures in70's Fahrenheit.  As a last minute thought  Carol quickly consulted her ipad. A blunt email from United Airlines announced that our flight was canceled.  Period. No explanation. As we tried to find alternative flights for London we discovered that thick fog was causing havoc at Heathrow. Eventually, we managed to secure seats for the next day though relief at being able to travel together was undone by a later email saying Carol had to travel separately via Washington (which ultimately did not happen). Unpacking, remaking the bed etc. we readied ourselves for delay.  Psychologically, it is odd to prep for departure and find yourself in limbo.

The next day at a chaotic airport we were delighted that our packed plane was only 20 minutes late for departure.  Sitting at the departure gate we next heard that the plane had a fuel leak and would not be ready for an hour.  The mantra: Thank you for your patience was heard for the first time!   After a full hour we boarded, with relief that the delay was over.  Taxiing slowly to the runway we came to a halt....for another hour. The pilot announced an electrical fault in the cockpit with their window heaters overheating.  We needed to return to a gate but none were free. Again, sweetly we heard the mantra.  Another hour passed.  Unfortunately, the economy plus seats we had booked on the earlier flight were not available on this plane and the seat in front of me was damaged and flopped backwards into my lap.  Not only did my kneecaps touch the seat in front!  Meanwhile we heard the mantra again as over three hours late in close proximity to the passenger in front we took off.  Of course, we were commended again for our patience and when we finally reached London we were rewarded with a heartfelt: Thank you for your patience.

I noted some things.  First, that pre-empting impatience is quite clever psychology.  It seems expecting people to behave well goes a long way towards them behaving well.  Second, passengers were remarkably equable. The repeated mantra could have really irritated us but somehow it didn't! Third, because the Christian faith makes much of patience as a fruit of the Spirit perhaps we ought to expect it of other believers and thank them for it pre-emptively. How wonderfully positive to assume the best of others!

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