I’m Such a Jerk. Are you?

by Dani Fake Webb on September 1, 2010

So here’s the story.

Last Sunday, I was traveling from Asheville to Washington, D.C. As always, I had to connect through Atlanta. Once in Atlanta, something beautiful happened:

  • My flight was oversold by TEN!

  • They were asking for volunteers to take a later flight.

  • Volunteers were given a $400 travel voucher.

  • I would have a First Class seat on a flight that left three hours later.

  • I had AT LEAST three hours worth of prep work to do for my coaching gig the next day.

  • Whether I did that prep work in an Atlanta airport restaurant or a D.C. hotel restaurant was irrelevant. So…

  • I volunteered to give up my seat. $400. First Class. No brainer.

(I’m such an angel.)

The gate agent (let’s call him Sean. I have no idea what his real name is. Nor do I have any idea why I want to call him Sean. I hate the way Sean is spelled. Hmm. But I digress…) told me that I was confirmed on the later flight, first class and 400 travel dollars richer!.

I was happy.

Sean asked me to take a seat until he could accomplish the onerous task of boarding the flight. Once he was not so busy, he would process my new First Class boarding pass and give me my $400 voucher.

Still happy.

Then Bob showed up.

I don’t know if his name was Bob. All I know is that once Bob showed up, everything went to hell.  (And, incidentally, I once dated a guy named Bob. That relationship went to hell. Hence my naming this guy Bob. But again I digress…)

I was standing to the side, watching Bob and Sean. Imagine my horror when Bob asked Sean “What the hell were you thinking?” about asking for so many volunteers. Bob-the-hell-guy said, “We don’t need near this many volunteers. We need to board these people!”

Huh?

My happiness started to take a nose-dive.

$400 – gone.
First Class – gone.
Coaching prep time – gone.

(Isn’t it funny how these things that I had not had 20 minutes earlier were now suddenly “gone”?)

I was annoyed. But still civil. And nice. I even smiled at Sean when I boarded.

Then it happened.

I was informed by a normally-nice-but-I-labeled-as-snarly-in-my-own-projection flight attendant that they were out of room and I could no longer take my bag on. It must be <insert horror movie theme music here: dah, Dah, DAH> CHECKED.

*gasp*

No! Not checked! THE HORROR! I NEVER check my bag. I can’t stand to wait. I don’t want to carry my heavier “personal item” on my shoulder vs strapped to the bag when I deplane. I can’t stand to wait. My computer is in that bag. I can’t stand to wait. I’M A GOLD MEMBER FOR GOSH SAKES!!!!!!!!!!

(Can you hear the entitlement creeping in?)

I was mad.
I tried to deplane.
I was called “ma’am” in THAT flight attendant voice.
The horror.

In my anger, I began to feel the flutters of shame. (Who did I think I was? Why was I so upset? Oh my, I am one of “those” passengers!)

Sean (bless his heart) came down the jetway to me. He fell all over himself trying to apologize for his error, trying to make it right. (“I can give you MILES, Ms. Webb.” Oh god. He called me Ms. Webb.)  As Sean did this, I basically ignored him. I said things like, “Sure.” “Thanks.” “It’s ok.”

I did not say anything mean. Worse. I refused to look Sean in the eye. I barely spoke to him. Ahhh, passive-aggressive-bitchy-princess-self. Hello.

Everything about my energy was me being a jerk.

I got on the plane, settled in, and fumed. What the heck was wrong with me?!

As the jetway pulled away from the plane, I was overwhelmed with guilt. “Oh my gosh,” I thought. “I was such a jerk. What was I thinking? It’s a BAG for goodness sake.” I had an overwhelming desire to get off the plane, run to Sean and fall all over myself apologizing to him.

But he was gone.

All he has of me is the memory of a woman he tried to help who responded by treating him like crap.

Can you relate? Oh, please tell me there is a time in your life that you did something, anything, that makes you able to relate with my story.

Maybe it was Mercury in retrograde.
Maybe it was lack of food after a 6.2 mile run.
Maybe it was lack of sleep.
Maybe it was hormones.

Maybe it was my Entitled Self trying to tell me something about me.

Whatever it was, I decided that feeling guilty and beating myself up was not helpful. Sean was gone. All I had to deal with was me. And I was already upset about treating someone poorly. Why should I continue the poor treatment toward myself?

It took awhile for my emotions to calm down (both the anger and the guilt). And when they did, I began to employ one of my favorite words: CURIOSITY.

I began to get curious about why I had gotten so upset. Why did I feel so entitled? What had happened to the laid back part of me that usually serves me so well in travel snafus?

Because I took the time to be curious and kind to myself, I did get some answers to these questions. And though the entire incident was not my best moment, I am grateful for the lessons.

When entitled self shows up again, I’ll recognize her more easily. And in recognizing her, I’ll be able to offer her care from my Authentic Self, before she hijacks my bus and takes over.

‘Cuz she’s not a very good driver.

So, despite the title of this article, I’m not really a jerk. I made some poor choices, and I learned something from them. And I decided to share my experience in the hopes that you, too, can approach yourself with curiosity and kindness in moments that you act poorly.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something about a part of you, and learn to love a part of you.

~~~Thoughts~~~

When have you acted in a way the you were later ashamed of?

How did you treat yourself?

Think of a part of you that you feel negatively toward. What if you were to treat that part with curiosity? Try to get to know that part…

  • What motivates her?

  • What is her role in your life?

  • What is she trying to protect?

  • What does she want to tell you?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

julie doane roberts October 9, 2010 at 1:59 pm

hi dani ~
oh, wow – yeah, i can relate. i just went through this too. i sent an email when i wasn’t feeling well and at way too early an hour for me – so, i didn’t communicate very well. if only there were an “unsend” button! oh, that’d be helpful.
i love that you handled this with curiosity. that’s a great approach. i’ve been coping by realizing that despite my unrealistic desire to be a mistake-free human, i’m a real human learning as i go.
thanks for this post – i suppose we all take turns being jerks and forgiving ourselves and others. thanks for your good words.
~ julie

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