When I travel, and I guess in my life generally, I try very hard to embody and project the values of my practice, most fundamentally, equality, in all things, top to bottom, no questions asked.
Thus, yesterday, as I was second in the wait-list line for the flight from Lago to Quito, where I had very important reasons to be, I let it play out, and in fact when we were told there was only one seat left, I made sure the nice woman in front of me knew it was hers, she shouldn’t feel bad, rules are rules. (As it happened, we both got screwed and nobody got on the flight, even several people in front of us who were told by agents they were getting on.)
That required me to spend a night in Lago as opposed to Quito, miss a meeting, but so it goes.
Then there was today. If I didn’t get on that flight, I would miss my flight back to the US, miss seeing my little boys on Sunday morning, miss crawling into bed with my wife tonight. Not gonna miss that flight. Nope.
They sent a much smaller plane to Lago than they were supposed to. About 15 Ecuadorians crowded around the ticket desk when I got there, all confirmed but trying to get on the plane, which was flat out full. And so it goes: I pulled every elitist tactic in the book. Many of the points I made were simply true – I did have an $800 plane ticket, the status of which was unclear if I had to reschedule. They were putting other people on 5-hour taxis to Quito, which might be inconvenient but hardly devastating for somebody who lives there, or was getting a connecting bus or something. It was more important that I get on that flight.
But still. I ruffled the same feathers, raised the same back hairs that I have seen Chevron’s lawyers and so many others effect over the years. How dare you?, it says. Don’t you know who I am? I made sure they understood how outrageous it would be to keep a gringo in Lago another day, as opposed the many petroleros crowded around me. To a significant extent, I didn’t even speak but simply maintained eye contact with the desk agents, and let my lighter skin speak for itself. Basically I pulled every piece of rank I could find.
And rank it was. But I got on the flight. There are lessons there, which include simply the fact that I love the hell out of my family and can’t wait to get back to see them in a few hours. But there are others too, worth chewing on, with time, and hopefully some generosity of spirit.