A tale of two stories

Rob Jolles

Story #1…

Last week, the travel Gods really stuck it to me good.  I showed up at O’Hare airport at 6:00 pm, and I found out that my 7:00 pm flight back to National Airport was running thirty minutes late.  This was due to thunderstorm activity.  When I noticed that there was a flight to Dulles Airport that was also delayed but set to leave at 6:30 pm, I made a run for the gate.  The 6:30 pm departure was an airline fairytale because the plane wasn’t even in yet.  What’s more, I had to wait in a 45 minute line just to see if I could get on the plane that wasn’t even here yet.  While waiting, my original 7:30 pm flight was cancelled, and my rare United first class upgrade was lost as well. I ended up getting on the “6:30pm flight,” which left the gate two hours late, sat on the tarmac for another hour and a half, and didn’t get me back to Dulles until midnight. 

What a lousy night.  I couldn’t catch a break.

Story #2…

Last week, the travel Gods were really looking out for me.  I showed up at O’Hare airport at 6:00 pm and I found out that my 7:00 pm flight back to National Airport was running thirty minutes late.  This was due to thunderstorm activity.  With many flights cancelling, I felt pretty lucky to even have a flight that wasn’t cancelled, but I figured a smart use of my time would be to check out a flight to Dulles that was running an hour ahead of my flight.  I made it to this other gate and although the line was long, I had a good book.  I felt that I was being prudent by waiting to see if I could get on standby on this flight, rather than just sitting and doing nothing.  I got lucky because my 7:30 pm flight ended up cancelling, and the line I was in grew longer, and longer.  We loaded late, and a thunderstorm hit right after we had boarded the plane, so we had to wait out on the tarmac for a while.  At least we were all on board!  We were also going to be in line to take off as soon as the skies cleared.   It cost us a few hours, but when they opened back up, we were ready to roll.  There was a lot of traffic on that tarmac, adding another 90 minutes or so, but with so many flights cancelled, I was thrilled to be one of the lucky ones to make it home that night.

It was a good night because I caught not one, but two breaks.  The first break I caught was when I decided to wait in that line around 6:00 pm, a full hour before my flight cancelled.  The second break I caught was my ticket.  United had moved me up to First Class on my original flight so I was holding a first class ticket.  Although they didn’t a First Class seat available, that little gem of an upgrade moved me to the top of the standby list.  I felt so lucky to have been given a seat on one of the few planes to make it back to D.C.!

You’ve just read about one, true event, told in two dramatically different ways.  Now, I’ll bet you’re wondering where the concept of luck comes into this particular event.  The truth is, luckdoes play a part in all of this.  You’ll notice in story #2, there are several moments in the story that deal with the positive side of the problem at hand.  Research has shown that lucky people usually see the positive side of their bad luck.  I’m sure you’ll agree that our attitude plays a part in the luck we often enjoy.

In story #2, you’ll also notice moments in the story when I observed how much more difficult the situation was for others.  Once again, research has shown that lucky people tend to look at their bad luck and imagine how things could have been worse.  Certainly you’ll agree that it helps if you can remove the cloud of bad luck, and perceive the same situation with perspective.

Our attitude and perception can work for us or against us.  Every life has its share of positive and negative moments.  If we feel downtrodden and unlucky during those moments that challenge us, how in the world can that contribute to a positive attitude?  Not only that, we might not be open to the opportunities that we can take to help alleviate the situation if we’re bogged down with negativity.  When we take those challenging moments, and truly believe in a different story, we put ourselves in a position to maintain a positive state of mind.  No matter what the obstacle is, we might actually gain something from the experience at hand.  So, the question really is, how will you tell your story?

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