Friday, August 29, 2014
I counted at least 18 Subway sandwich bags coming on board my flight from Houston to Orange County on United Airlines (UA321) today -- mine was one of them. I don't know how many others may have had their prize lunch hidden in a bag -- keeping their treasure out of view of those who either didn't think ahead or ran to catch this flight. You can see my partially eaten sandwich here in the photo I took (when it was safe to put down my tray table and break out my sandwich!) I even saw a man in business class pull out his subway sandwich as I pulled out mine. He was enjoying his as much as I was enjoying mine -- it may have been his statement against the food in business class that was about to be served. Whoops -- wait a minute -- he is eating his business class lunch now too -- and looks like he is enjoying it as well!
The man across the aisle from me just removed his shoes, which, well, if I were braver I'd ask him to put them back on, as the odor is interfering with my enjoyment of my sandwich. But I know he deserves to be comfortable. I'm praying the increased air circulation will take care of that soon.
I thought about the incident I saw on the news regarding a United flight this past week -- a man in a middle seat purchased a device designed to stop the person in front of him from reclining their seat. The person ahead of him -- who wanted to recline her seat -- could not do so. Not even the stewardess could talk the gentleman with the "stop it from reclining" device into removing it. What ensued was the woman in the seat that the man stopped from reclining became angry and threw her water on the man. At an emergency stop at an airport (not the final destination), the two of them were removed from that flight and the rest of the passengers continued on to their destination. I don't know what happened to the two who had to deplane, but I'm fairly certain both will be on United's "naughty" list. I am thinking about this today because the woman in the seat in front of me just reclined her seat so abruptly and quickly that she sent my iPad flying off my tray table and into my lap! While I did have water in my possession, I had no desire to throw it on her. Instead, I smiled and kept on working.
Yesterday I received an email from United letting me know that there would be wifi available on this flight. This greatly distressed me. Flying as much as I do I enjoy being "cut off", even if just for a few hours, from my mail and phone. It feels like a mini break where I can write and think without the distraction of the BING of an email received, or the melodious tone of an incoming call. No, I won't be taking advantage of the $6.99 access to wifi. As this airbus also does not offer any kind of movie, the quiet of people eating their subway sandwiches and crunching on the chips they bought to go with it is as soothing to my ears and my heart as the meditative music/chants of Hildegard of Bingen.
I like United Airlines -- I'm almost afraid to say that -- I was a loyal Continental customer until they merged. I haven't had any problems with United, and when there has been an issue, it was taken care of quickly. Many people I talk to tell me their United tale-of-woe. I feel as though I'm hearing a confession when they start! I am tempted at times to offer absolution for their loathing of the airline that I actually like.
The woman in the seat in front of me just came back to her seat from using the restroom. Something told me to pick up my cup of black coffee and hold it in my hand -- thank goodness I did. She plopped back down in her seat (which was still in the reclining position), and sent my bottle of water -- from the aftershock to my tray table -- hurdling down the aisle.
And I keep on smiling.
Maybe United needs to create an airplane etiquette video. I'd be happy to help make suggestions for that one!
In one week and a few days I'll be back on a United flight again -- this time to New York for a Church Pension Fund Board of Trustees meeting. I'll come back on a Thursday night from that trip, have one day to do laundry and pack, and get back on a United Flight on Saturday morning to head to Taiwan for the House of Bishops meeting. I normally try not to do back to back flights like this, but I had not choice in this case. At least I have two nights in my own bed before heading to Asia.
I will leave for Asia on September 13 in the morning, arrive in Taiwan on September 14th in the evening, and arrive back home on October 8th. In addition to the work I will do at the House of Bishops in Taiwan, I, along with many other bishops, will take advantage of an optional, additional trip to another part of the Asian Anglican Communion. We had our choice of Hong Kong, Korea, Japan or the Philippines. I chose Hong Kong in order to continue the relationship we have with that Province. Because of my work in Multicultural Ministry, I will continue from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur, visiting the Bishop who was in charge of the Worldwide Anglican Chinese Clergy Fellowship I attended in Manila in 2012, then on to Korea to visit with Archbishop Kim and talk about the ministry exchange we share, and then on to Tokyo to visit with Bishop Oohata who we hosted in Los Angeles last year.
I will be on many planes, doing the work God has given me to do -- continuing and strengthening the relationships this Diocese has with Dioceses in Asia. There is much work we share in common, and a great deal of help we can offer each other. As the growth in Asian immigration continues on the West Coast, we as a church are in a unique position to welcome new immigrants-- some who know us from our sister churches in Asia, others who are hungry for the good news of Jesus Christ.
As I wander through Asia in the upcoming weeks, I will be blogging every day. I wonder, in this traveling, who I will meet on the planes and trains and buses I will be traveling on. One this is for certain -- if they take off their shoes, recline their seats, or bring food on board, I won't be complaining -- I will be smiling. And one more thing -- if wifi is offered, I won't be connecting!
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