15 Sep 2008
I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a world-class traveler. Air travel is my least favorite mode of transportation but it sure beats walking.
Recently, I flew to Michigan to speak at a conference. I am not saying the airlines do not know what they are doing, they don’t, I am just not going to say it. My experience is that they regularly book the flights just a little bit too close to each other. I had to fly from Muskegon to Detroit in order to go to Orlando.
I arrived at the Muskegon airport early enough and everything seemed to go just fine. I inquired about the timetable and was assured everything was on schedule, despite the rainy weather condition.
We all were assembled to get onto the plane when we received word that the flight had been canceled due to weather. This little bit of news set up a real ruckus among my fellow travelers.
We lined up at the ticket counter and every one was groaning and complaining and as if in one orchestrated moment all the cell phones clicked open and people were desperately trying to solve their problem. So many around me were grouching and complaining that I decided my cranky disposition was not needed. I reserved it for some more convenient time.
I was the last one in line and when I got to the woman behind the counter I cheerfully said, “Do whatever you have to to get me to Orlando. I don’t mind.” Then I said as an afterthought, “You’re doing a great job under these circumstances.” And flashed one of my famous smiles.
She sighed rather deeply, volleyed my smile back to me, then mouthed the words, “I’ll put you in first class.”
I smiled back not realizing what she had done for me. I had seen the first class section in airplanes but I had never actually experienced first-class. I always wondered what goes on behind those curtains in first-class but never knew personally.
The airport in Muskegon bussed us to the Grand Rapids Airport where we caught the plane taking us to Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. It was there that I was to discover the excellencies of first-class flying.
I boarded the airplane and was directed to my seat in first class. I was in for the treat of my life.
When I sat down I found my seat and discovered much to my amazement that the seat was wider than my posterior. I could actually sit down in the seat with room enough to relax. But the time the plane took off nobody had taken the seat next to me. I had the whole row to myself.
I did what anybody else would have done in similar circumstances. I took off my shoes, stretched out my feet and wiggled my toes. Aaah, the luxury of first-class.
When the plane reached its flying altitude the flight attendant with a cart stopped by my seat and said, “Ravioli or chicken?”
I was not sure what the attendant was talking about and assumed it was one of those newfangled games they play in first class. Not knowing what to say, I said the first intelligent thing that came to my mind. “Huh?”
“Would you like a ravioli or a chicken dinner?”
I was delightfully shocked. They served dinner in first class. Who would have thought of it?
Being on the safe side I responded by indicating I wanted the chicken dinner. You never can go wrong with chicken. Ravioli, on the other hand, is a different story.
The flight attendant began to prepare my chicken dinner right in front of me. I was amazed. What he set before me was unexpected. There was a real plate and a real glass and, you are not going to believe this, but a real napkin. Wrapped in that real napkin was a set of real silverware. Not some of the plastic stuff they got back in the regular section.
However, my dilemma was beginning to show itself. Evidently, in first class dining there is a different utensil for each food group. For example, there was a fork for the salad, another fork for the meat, and still another fork for the vegetables. I did not know which fork was which but I was much too delighted with the whole affair to ponder the culinary etiquette of first-class dining.
I tried very hard not to use the vegetable fork in my salad. I did not know what would happen if I did, but who wants to take such a chance when you are a first-time flyer in first class.
And the dessert…
I will not say that the chocolate delight on my dessert plate was heavenly but I’m sure I was the envy of every angel in heaven.
For a smidgen of a second, I did feel sorry for those flying regular class.
As I leaned back in my luxurious first-class seat, a verse Scripture came to my mind. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17 KJV).
I did not deserve first-class. I didn’t even need it. But my Heavenly Father just gave it to me as a surprise. Reveling in my experience, I mused to myself, next to His “only begotten son,” I must be his favorite son.
Rev. James L. Snyder