Eddie's Last Flight (Ever)
The saga that all started at gate B11, and it was all captured on video
Our plane was going to be delayed an extra thirty minutes.
Something about having to move things around in the cargo area since the flight was making several stops.
The Southwest Airlines gate attendant, Gracie, made that announcement over the loudspeaker just about five minutes before we were supposed to begin boarding.
And that's when it all started.
Literally, as soon as she hung up her little walkie-talkie device, you could feel this wave of frustrated energy charge through gate B11. Some people had thought she was going to announce the pre-board, so they had grabbed their oversized luggage. They started to line up like cattle, only to be deflated and frustrated when they suddenly realized they would have a thirty-minute delay.
Yeah, that frustrated energy was really firing folks up now.
Then this random old dude, he actually looked like someone's sweet ole' grampa, walked up to Gracie and wanted to know why first-class passengers could not board and wait on the plane. Gracie was the coolest of all cucumbers as she looked at his boarding pass and let him know he WOULD be boarding in the first group but that we were delayed. Nobody was allowed to board yet, and could you please just relax until we started the boarding process?
Grampa wanted none of that bullshit.
He wanted his damn seat.
He mumbled through his N-95 mask some malarkey about how he'd paid for "first-class," and he wanted to be let on board. Didn't she realize that he was old and needed his seat? Suddenly the 5'1" cute grampa became a wrinkled old gargoyle.
Gracie just smiled back and asked him to please be patient.
Just when you think it's time to chill for thirty minutes, here comes the pissed young dude right up into little Gracie's face. He was demanding to know why there was inappropriate social distancing at gate B11 and how the airline planned to address this on the plane. Which was 100% full.
His arms were crossed and brows furrowed, and I imagine if we could see his Weasley face, he'd have one of those entitled, millennial-type smirks painted on his mug.
Cucumber Gracie said that the airline policy regarding the pandemic were plastered on the website for folks to read before buying a ticket. She also politely said that the gentleman had many options when choosing his airline. She continued that while the carrier was grateful he had chosen Southwest Airlines, that this is where we are at this point in the pandemic.
Oh, and could you please have a seat because we're delayed for thirty minutes.
And this pissed off young dude even more.
Ticked him off so much he threatened to Tweet and Insta this entire fiasco to his social followers. That'll teach ya!
This went on for about well, thirty minutes. Gracie was tested by first-class grampa again…young dude had more words (and Tweets) for her…and then two wheelchair-bound folks family members exchanged words with Gracie because "damn, these chairs on wheels are hurting my mom's aching back."
We finally boarded.
We took off.
As we walked off the jetway and entered the terminal, my wife and I saw that old dude, the young dude, and several of the wheelchair gang lined up at the enormous plate-glass window staring back at the airline. That lady from seat 21C with her 13-year-old son was there staring as well, and so was that lovely couple from Orlando.
His wife was crying.
They were all lined up at the plate-glass, in the terminal, staring back at the jet.
Except for the ones saluting, they all had their phones out and were recording video of the plane we had just disembarked.
You see, this was no ordinary flight. This was Eddie's final flight. Eddie is a soldier who was killed while serving our country, and we had the distinct honor of being on the same flight as him.
The reason for that thirty-minute delay was so that the ground crew could reposition his coffin so it would be offloaded first, into the hands of the waiting US military honor guard.
Yeah, the honor guard was there in full dress uniform and white gloves. Eddies parents were there too. Police cars with lights on and cops saluting as Eddie's body was removed was what everyone was looking at.
Eddie put it all in perspective for us passengers on flight 1322.
The old gargoyle man saluted. The young millennial dude froze, and I swear he was crying. One of the wheelchair posse was helped out of his chair, so he could stand at attention. Found out he was retired from the Air Force.
Yeah. Eddie coming home put it ALL Into perspective. The anger, frustration, disappointment, and the wad of emotion that went into a silly little thirty-minute delay seemed…well…
You see, folks, the thing is we don't know what we don't know. We don't know what other people are thinking, feeling, or going through. And because of that, we often think and act very selfishly.
And then you find yourself on an Angel flight where a mere ten feet below you is a dead soldier who SELFLESSLY gave everything.
If we had known there was a body in the cargo hold, maybe we'd of acted differently.
How about this.
How about you just go ahead and act differently and be a good human anyway?
You may not have flown with Eddie, but lemme tell you this. Eddie's sacrifice and the sacrifice of all our heroes before and after him are why we have the freedom to act like assholes.
Don't be an asshole.
If not for the sake of simply being a good human, do it for Eddie.