Recently, I have had to make several trips where I chose to fly instead of drive. This is not usually a big deal. However, I have also recently had shoulder surgery. It was supposed to be a minor procedure with a short recovery. I didn’t wake up from a minor procedure. I woke up from a much more extensive surgery with a much longer road to recovery. Not being able to use my dominate arm and hand made flying a big ordeal. I learned a long time ago (plus a $25 charge for checking in a bag) to only bring a carry on. By now, you can see my problem. How am I going to get my carry-on into the overhead with only my left hand?
Let’s just start at security in both airports. Granted, I was flying out at times that aren’t known for being busy and the security lines were reasonably shorter than usual. The first TSA officers at both airports noticed that I couldn’t go through the super high tech scanners because I couldn’t raise my arm. They walked over to me, ushered me to the side, picked up my bag and got everything on and through the conveyor belt for me. Before you think I got special treatment, just think about who I was dealing with. Oh… TSA gave me their version of special treatment. After walking through the standard metal detector, I got patted down and then swabbed for who knows what.
As I boarded the first airplane, a male flight attendant immediately noticed my arm in a sling and asked if he could take my bag and put it in the closet. As I left the plane, he had my bag waiting on me. I only mention that he was a male because as I boarded the next 3 airplanes, the female flight attendants pretty much ignored my arm. In fact, I asked one of them for a little help and she told me that there might be someone to help me closer to my seat. However, this lack of help from the flight attendants left room for others to step in.
Approaching my seat on the second plane, my eyes were scanning the overhead compartments for space to put my carry-on. I stopped at my seat and let go of my bag and turned around to see if I had missed a place to put my bag. When I turned back around, my bag was gone. Another guy was hoisting it into the overhead above him saying, “No worries, I got this.” When we landed and I was making my way out of my seat, the same guy handed me my bag. “Hope your arm gets better.” I didn’t tell him what happened, nor did he care to know. In fact, the only words I even said to the guy were “Thank You.”
On my way back home, I boarded the third jet. A guy who appeared to be a student athlete from the University of Wisconsin was sitting just past first class on the first row of the “rest of us” class. I assume he was a student athlete because the guy was about 6’8″ and decked out in red sweats, a red Wisconsin jacket, red shoes, and red Beats. (I believe my assumption was fairly safe). He took one glance and snatched up my bag trying to fit it in any place around him that he could. Unfortunately, all the spaces were taken or my bag was too big. I got to my seat bag in hand. I looked at a guy for a split second. He unbuckled and said, “I’ve been there,” and loaded my bag.
Getting off that third leg of my trip didn’t go as smoothly. I should have swallowed my pride and asked for help. But, I had a plan and it would have worked. The plan was to wait for someone to back the line up trying to get their bag from the overhead, grab my bag with my left hand and let it fall into the seat below. Just as I yanked my bag, I saw a girl running down the aisle getting ready to go under my arm. Instinct took over and I caught the bag with my bad arm, or at least deflected it from hitting the girl. Ouch!!! Not to worry, the final leg of my trip another sweet couple helped me with my bag. As I walked down the aisle, a lady watched me all the way to my seat. When I got to my seat, she hit her husband. He didn’t even look at her, but jumped out of his seat and grabbed my bag. When we landed, he handed me my bag as I left my seat.
Luke 10:30, 33 A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
I have to swallow my pride to ask for help and I know many others who are the same way. This is not at all what this is about. No, this is about being alert to the possibility of helping someone else. Helping someone in a lot of cases cost us nothing. As believers, we have to have our eyes open to what is going on around us. We must be on the lookout to help others, to bless others.
The first flight attendant recognized the need immediately and didn’t hesitate to take action. You might say that it is his job. Well, on your job are you keeping your eyes peeled back to ways that you can jump in and do your job better? A happy customer is a loyal customer.
How about the student who was willing to help, even when he couldn’t? Is your heart softened to the needs of others?
Are you willing to unbuckle and help someone? I’m not even talking about going way out of the way to help someone. Simply a few steps or a few seconds can go a long way. Are we willing to let go of our precious time to serve others?
Are we on the lookout for each other? The wife wasn’t in the position to help, but her husband was. Are we noticing times and places where someone we know can be in a place to serve someone much better than even we are?
Our eyes have to be open to recognizing ways that we could be serving, blessing, and helping others before they even ask for it… if they will ever ask for it. And recognizing a need isn’t enough! We must be meeting the needs of others! A “bless his/her heart” may sound nice, but doesn’t help a person out in the least. In the parable, a priest noticed the man on the side of the road and probably even felt bad for the guy. The Levite saw the man and may have shot up a prayer for the poor guy. But only the Samaritan did something. Jesus tells us to be a neighbor to people.
Matthew 22:39 Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2015