I wish I could find and talk with a man who was on Flight # DL 2297, Minneapolis to Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 1, 2023. I want to apologize to him for treating him badly. It all started when I was in the middle seat and Larry, my husband, was in the window seat. Then I saw coming down the aisle toward me a very large man. Perhaps he weighed 300 pounds, and I was thinking, “Please do not take this aisle seat beside me.” (Was I actually praying this request? If so, my request was not answered.) He maneuvered into the seat. In retrospect he must have been very uncomfortable because he had no room for all the body mass and thus had to take over my half of the adjoining armrest and his stomach was slammed against the seat in front of him. I was inwardly irate because I had to lean against my husband the whole trip and I couldn’t use the arm rest (poor little me.)
It wasn’t until we landed, and he was walking down the aisle that it suddenly hit me how rude—how pompous—how quietly hostile—I had been to this man. I didn’t even acknowledge him with, “Hi. How are you today?” Or, “Do you live in Grand Rapids?” I treated him like he wasn’t worthy of my acknowledgement.
My behavior is ironic as I (1) value diversity and believe that each person is made in the image of God and deserves respect, (2) I have struggled with losing weight most of my life. I remember as a young girl the taunts. I still hear voices in my memory saying, “You are not good enough, pretty enough, slim enough.” Therefore: you would think that I would have had compassion for this man. I know how diminishing it can be to look in a mirror and be disgusted with how I look. And (3) I am a Christian, and I did not walk my talk of loving my neighbor. I did not follow my ministry’s Caregiving Basic of Preserve the Dignity.
There is a bit of redemption in this story. I am truly sorry for my actions and feel very contrite. This experience has reminded me to be more sensitive and remember to “be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (Plato)
And I hope that the man in seat 19D was greeted at the airport by individuals who love and value him.
I am so sorry.