More often than it doesn’t, it pays to be nice. In my years of travel and the experiences that I have enjoyed, I have noticed that one of the places it is most often difficult to be nice in is at the airport. Rushing from one gate to the next, delayed flights, canceled plans, lost luggage, and the list goes on.
Not to mention the fact that the temperature in the terminals or on the plane is never set just perfect for anyone. And it changes from one section to the next. You can go from a boiling inferno to a walk-in cooler just walking from gate A7 to A12.
I remember one trip where the flight had been quite uncomfortable. No beverage service. The air from my vent never went to cool and blew hot air the entire time. Not to mention that I was stuck in a middle seat for the next leg of my flight.
Wanting to change the situation, I walked straight to the counter at the gate. I noticed the two women working there were upset about something. And that something was a supervisor named Larry or Gary or something. This could be difficult.
They watched me approach. No frowns, but no smiles either. I set my arms on the countertop and let a sigh of relief escape. “Oh, thank goodness it’s you two,” I said. One of them responded, “Can I help you, sir?” I took a deep breath and nodded. “I was told that the only people that would be able to help me would be Shirley or Rachel.” Huge smiles split their lips and they laughed. I ended up getting a window seat in a row with extra leg room and two drink vouchers.
Another time, I had been in Orlando, Florida on business. Again, I had a middle seat and had it changed at the counter after many compliments and smiles and reassurances. When I arrived at my aisle seat this woman was kneeling in my seat and a man was standing up in the aisle just past the row. She smiled and said, “This is my husband. He and I just got married but we have different seats.” My shoulders slumped. I just knew it.
“Would you mind trading seats with him?” Who was I to keep two newlyweds apart? “Not a problem,” I said. The gentleman handed me his ticket, and I gave him mine. When I looked at it, my heart sank. It was an F-seat—which I had just changed from before stepping onto the plane.
With new ticket in hand, I started walking up towards the front. Much to my surprise, it seemed that seat 8F was located in first class. How fortuitous. I folded up my light jacket to put in the bin when a flight attendant came up to me and asked me if she could hang my coat in the closet. A closet on a plane? Sure. Then she asked me what I wanted to drink before takeoff? I asked for a Shiner. She brought it.
During the flight, I watched television, played Tetris, and watched the map that showed where we were. By the time the flight was over, I was wishing it had been longer than an hour and a half.
It ALWAYS pays to be nice. It’s no skin off my shins. And it turns out nicely in the long run. I try to remember that and the words my mother told me long ago: Kill them with kindness.
WHAT I’M UP TO
WRITING: Several projects going on right now. I just received the first edits on Slipping the Cradle back from my publisher. It is a science fiction/murder mystery set outside of earth’s atmosphere. At 180,000 words, it would be over 500 pages, which can be a little daunting for any reader. So, it may be split into two different novels. What was planned to be a five-book series has already changed into six before the first book even comes out.
I am in the middle of writing the second draft of Bishop, which is a historical horror about the Viking settlements in Greenland. It will be coming out from the same publisher. I also received word that a gothic pulp anthology with one of my stories might be coming out this summer from a different publisher. Since the chapbook of poems was not the winning entry, I am looking for a home for that manuscript. And finally, the story An Envelope Addressed to Me will be included along with two other stories in a collection that I am looking into self-publishing called Three Tragedies.
FICTION: Currently, I am in the middle of Chris Evans’ Of Bone and Thunder. A fascinating fantasy that reads more like the novelization of Platoon than a traditional heroic fantasy. There is magic. There are dragons. But there are also politics, conscripted soldiers sent to a foreign land to fight an enemy they can’t see, and a land populated by a people that don’t want the soldiers there. As I am reading it, rather than seeing fantasy tropes inside my mind’s eye, I keep bringing up memories from old television shows like Tour of Duty and China Beach.
NONFICTION: I am still reading African Samurai by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard. A fascinating history of Yasuke—a man kidnapped from his family as a child that traveled the world learning several languages as a servant and bodyguard to Jesuits in Asia. He came to Japan as a bodyguard of Jesuit priests as well as treasure and weapons but ends up a samurai.
TELEVISION: Season 2 of Altered Carbon has arrived on NetFlix. Finally! I loved the first season. Hardcore science fiction filled with political intrigue, murder, mystery, and even a touch of romance. It is a relationship that drives the protagonist forward in his quest. Joel Kinnaman plays Takeshi Kovacs in his current “sleeve” (minds can be transferred from body to body using a technology that transfers consciousness) during the first season. Anthony Mackie plays him in the second season. Will Yun Lee plays the original Takeshi. I have seen the first episode. Wow!
MOVIES: I did not make it to the theater since last time. That means that I will be going through withdrawals. The next film on the schedule is The Invisible Man.