Archive for March, 2022

It doesn’t take a whole lot to impress me these days, and that’s very different from how I used to be. I remember a time when acts of violence, hostile dialog, and even simple elevated confrontations, between people in a public place were remarkable, and at least mildly shocking. I certainly noticed it, and I think most of us did. I also remember when random acts of kindness were so common, they sorta slipped under the radar. Human decency and respectful dialog were simply the standards of behavior we expected and lived by.

Well, things have changed. Sadly, I’ve kinda gotten used to it.

When ‘The Large Man Chronicles’ started, 13 years and 103 posts ago, I wrote about funny and remarkable things that I thought were “commentary worthy”. Things that I witnessed in my travels. I loved watching people navigate the ins and outs of their working days. Flight delays & cancellations, rental cars that were reserved but not there, hotel room fiascos, food poisoning, weather nightmares…even simple jet lag and the weariness of being on the road… all of it was interesting to me, and based on the feedback, it was interesting to my readers as well. Watching our fellow humans trying to earn a living to support a family was relatable to us. I lived it… I still am living it…and I still love it. So, I enjoyed sharing these things with you.

I got a kick out of watching parents soothing their “last nerve” as they endured the struggle of traveling with young children. I enjoyed it because I lived that too. I appreciated it because I could see that conflict of frustration that borders on “hair fire” anger, against the love that borders on nothing you’ve ever really understood before. Again, I loved being in the audience, because I loved being the character in that play not so many years prior. I didn’t know I loved it at the time I was going through it, but luckily, even then, I knew I would be able to look back at these frustrating moments and smile…and I do. The convergence of frustration and unconditional love when it comes to the love of our children is why humanity survives…unconditional love almost always wins. I guess airport security cameras have little to do with the survival thing too.

But it is different now. Things have changed and moved in a direction that truly worries me, because I just don’t know how we rechart this course. We now have a convergence, a hot pot if you will, of political correctness against outright anger, spiced up with indulgence and entitlement (from my lens, across the board, not just our youth) with seemingly no desire to find common ground.  We are seasoning this “hot pot” with anger, indifference, entitlement, and indulgence, and we are leaving empathy, understanding, respect, and dignity on the spice rack. It’s cooking up a nasty tasting stew.

It is a straight-up BUMMER that outrageously rude behavior doesn’t really surprise me anymore.

But … on the other hand…occasionally, I get a little hope.

TWO STORIES…8 Days Apart

Story 1… Bummer:

The Large Man is on a flight from KC, connecting in Nashville, then headed home after a long and dreary week. I’m back in “pre-COVID 19” traveling mode. I miss my wife, my kids, my obnoxious dog…and I’m a bit cranky. But I’m so full of kindness and light, even a cranky Large Man is mostly a joy to be around. I open doors for ALL people, I thank uniformed military men & women for their service, I smile at people who make eye contact with me…and my smile is so bright and full of Large love for humanity, they see it even with my mask covering my mouth (AND NOSE!! Because, really?). My point: While I’m not in my best headspace, I still feel an obligation to kindness.

But then this happened…

Three lovely, enthusiastic, dressed to party ladies, stop by row 18 on Southwest Airlines’ flight to Nashville. It is early on a Saturday morning, when I should be snuggled up next to Mrs. Large Man and considering waffles, pancakes, omelets, or breakfast burritos, because Saturday is cheat day…but I’m not…I’m in row 18 on a Southwest flight from Kansas City to Nashville. I’m in the aisle seat with two empty seats next to me.

The leader of this terrorist organization of 3 tells me that she is going to need me to move so the three of them can sit together, because they are going to Nashville for a bachelorette party, and there are no more empty rows on the plane, pretty much only middle seats.

And I quote:

“Sir, can you take your headphones off, so we can talk?”

I comply…with a fully masked smile…remove my headphones, and reply, “What’s up?”

“I’m gonna need you to move to one of these middle seats so me and my girlfriends can sit together for this one’s bachelorette party.” She said this with her own smile that was visible behind her bedazzled mask, as she pointed her thumb over her shoulder at her pre-wedded traveling companion.

Before I share my reply, please understand three (3) things:

1) I was not asked to move, I was told, “I’m gonna need you to move”.

2) These were three (3) grown ass women, none of whom I am currently sleeping with or share family with. They were not traveling with a family, small children, elderly people, or persons with special needs. To quote Sam Cooke, they were “…having a party, and everybody was swingin’, dancing to the music on the radio”.

3) Southwest has a program called “Earlybird” where one can reserve early boarding privileges for $20. I know the program is available on flights from Kansas City to Nashville, because I was a current participant.


I replied, “No, thanks. I’m gonna stay here. I paid the Earlybird premium so I could have an aisle seat. Two of you are welcome to sit in these seats”, as I point with my thumb over my shoulder at the middle and window seats in row 18, “…and one of you can sit in the middle seat right there.” (Row 17) “It’s only about an hour flight.”

“I can’t believe you won’t move! What an a-hole!”, was her retort. Except she used the real word… I’m continuing to try and clean up LMC language, even though it’s not true to my nature.

I replied with a sincere, “I’m sorry, I paid for this and I prefer an aisle. Also, to properly ask, you should have said, ‘My girlfriends and I’, not ‘me and my girlfriends’ and then you should have asked, and not just told me what you needed me to do. Some simple etiquette would have gone a long way.”, and then I put my headphones back on and listened to the haunting voice of Susan Tedeschi sing ‘Midnight in Harlem’. But in the background, beyond the magic of noise cancellation technology, I heard the good people in my general vicinity give a light round of applause. It was a nice validation.

Had I been asked nicely; I probably would have moved. I think I would have moved. Maybe.

Story 2… Hope:

It’s 8 days later, and I am not cranky; I am angry. It is a Sunday morning, it’s early, my kids were in town and at home. Pancakes were on the breakfast menu, and Mrs. Large Man makes the best pancakes in America, probably the world. I had been home less than 48 hours, and I’m back at the airport. Did I mention that it was Sunday?

I plop my angry ass in seat 24D on an American Airlines flight to DFW. As the plane fills up, I become a little hopeful because seat 24E remains empty, so a buffer seat on a non-stop 3-hour flight was looking hopeful. That’s like winning the lottery! Well, it’s actually nothing like winning the lottery, but the little comforts, like an empty seat next to you on a long plane ride, are awesome.

Just as I start to get comfortable and feel the twinges of smile muscles starting to flex, it’s déjà vu all over again. Two beautiful young ladies are hovering over me and my aisle seat in row 24.

Here we go…

“Sir, my daughter and I are in 2 different rows. We had to book this flight at the last minute, and I only had that middle seat”, the one next to me, “and the seat behind it available. I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you mind…”

“Of course!”, I interrupt. “Absolutely.”

I gather my things and I make my way to the middle seat behind me. As I move, the diminutive man sitting in the aisle says, “I’ll take the middle, sir. I’m small, and I’m gonna sleep the whole way anyway. You take the aisle.”

The mom and her 4-year-old daughter (so a “beautiful” young lady) were able to sit together on this long flight. When we landed at DFW, Kara, the daughter, draws a picture for me, and mom writes a note that simply reads, “Thank you!! For your kindness.”

I feel good. They feel good. The sleeping man in seat 25E feels good. AND… I leave the plane less angry, and a little more hopeful about the state of mankind (including yours truly).

Story 1 & Story 2, are sorta the same; there were women asking me to move from my seat to less comfortable accommodations. In one an order was given, in the other one a favor was asked. In one there was indulgence and entitlement, in the other there was grace and respectfulness. And…obviously…there were 3 drunk women in one, which most of the time I like, and there was a sweet, classy mother and her adorable little girl in the other.

I’m doing my best to stay focused on Story 2. I’m going to keep Kara’s note in my computer bag, and I may even show it to folks when we talk about the horrors of road warrior travel, and how unpleasant people are becoming.

I think the course to redemption starts with a new hot pot of my own, with new ingredients and seasoning. I want to use Kara’s note and picture as the foundation stock.

We must chart a new course, and I guess it should start with me…and maybe even some of you. Too bad, I was really hoping to take the day off.

Big Love & thanks for reading!!


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