Rough Grace


It was 30 years ago, just before Thanksgiving weekend, on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Los Angeles International Airport was crawling with pre-holiday misery. Planes were late and tempers were flaring. The holidays might be impending, but the holiday spirit was nowhere to be seen. And then the announcement came: Our flight to Denver had been cancelled. No reason was offered. Which meant the airline was responsible–if the airport or weather had been to blame, that would be the first thing they’d tell us.

Cranky passengers were greeted by an even crankier Steward. Allen (my partner in the comedy act Mitch & Allen) and I knew that FAA regulations required them to put us on a competitor’s flight if they didn’t have one of their own leaving within four hours. We also knew they would not offer this unless it was demanded.

The only person who seemed truly cheery was the man in front of us, a Texas CEO-type in an expensive suit with tailored Western lapels and (surprise, surprise) boots and a Stetson—in which he stood at least 6 foot 5 (7 foot 5 with the hat). He was warmly encouraging the “little lady” in front of him, a skinny single mom with wispy blonde hair and watery blue eyes, hefting a baby and towing a toddler.

When the young mom got to the counter, the acerbic Steward said flatly, “Sorry” (he didn’t sound like it). “Our next flight out is tomorrow at 9:15. Here are your tickets.”

The young woman began to cry. “But I…I got two kids and I don’t got no money for a hotel. All our family is in Colorado and—”

“Sorry. Next,” said the Steward, waving her aside.

The young mom stood there, quietly sobbing.

“Next,” the Steward repeated.

The Businessman gently shifted her aside and stepped up the counter.

“Sorry,” the Steward began. “Our next flight is—” But his speech was cut short by the sudden tightening of his collar around his neck.

The Businessman had reached across the counter and with one hand lifted him approximately eight inches off the ground.

“You’re gonna put the little lady and her cubs on the next flight out of here. Aren’t you?”

“Well, no, sir, I’m not allowed to—”

“Right, you’re not ‘allowed’ to, you’re required to. And your gonna do it. Aren’t you?”

“Y…yes, sir.”

“And you’re gonna put ‘em in first class to make up for all the inconvenience. Aren’t you?”

“Well, I…”

“Aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. I knew you’d have a change of heart, it bein’ the holidays and all,” the Businessman said warmly. “And don’t forget to apologize real loud so everybody can hear when you give her the tickets.” Then he quietly returned the Steward to terra firma.

thanksgiving-hornAt that moment, at least eighty weary, cranky passengers broke into raucous, spontaneous applause.

The holiday spirit had arrived.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Story Power and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Rough Grace

  1. Eva says:

    What a lovely post to read. What I got from it was this. We need to give to much consideration to different circumstances. All of us don’t live the same life

    Liked by 3 people

  2. DC Gilbert says:

    Nice and good are not the same thing. Nice is a tool to be used to get what you want. Good is a character trait. For example, Jeffery Dahmer could be very nice to get what he wanted … a new victim. Good men (and women) sometimes do things that may not be “nice” simply because it is the right thing to do. This was a good man!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Oh how I love this! I appreciate he had a difficult job but showing a little compassion never hurts, especially to those with young children. We’re raising the adults of tomorrow. Let’s teach them to be good ones

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Notwende says:

    Which proves again what my mother taught me over and over again when I was a youngster:
    „It’s always the individual that makes the difference!“

    Liked by 2 people

      • Notwende says:

        Just an example of how a single individual can make a difference:
        More than twenty years ago I lived in the northernmost province of Italy – right south of the border to Austria.
        One night we had a party and I was happily drunk when one of my siblings called me with the sobering message that if I wanted to see my father alive and bid him farewell I would have to drive right away to his home since it looked like he wouldn’t make it through the night. His home was about a six hours drive away. I simply couldn’t remain at home even though I wasn’t fit at all to drive a car. Just five miles after crossing the border I was stopped at a police checkpoint. The officer I had to deal with was clearly seasoned, street smart and seemed like maybe a year away from his retirement. After handing him my papers he asked me what I was doing that late at night around here (it was close to 2 a.m.) and I told him about my father.
        He clearly was moved by my explanation and after considering he asked me if I had been drinking. I shook my head even though I knew I was reeking of booze. He nodded slowly, handed my papers back and said: „You drive on – but drive carefully…“
        Guess what: after all these years I still feel the deepest gratitude for his reactions.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Love it! One of my pet peeves is someone who inconveniences people, mutters “Sorry,” but obviously couldn’t are less.
    One other thought, from the creative writer in me: Do you think there’s a possibility that man was an angel? “Just sayin’ …”

    Liked by 4 people

  6. That made me smile real big!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. M.B. Henry says:

    I would have loved to witness that.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Matilda S. Novak says:

    i Love this….Your words play like a film, no matter what you write, and this scene brought tears to my eyes. No doubt God had fun sending that Texan Angel to the rescue/encouragement of all.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. That’s a Texan. ♡ Good read!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. VT_Lissa says:

    I love this story! thanks for sharing! It sure lifted my spirits up even if I wasn’t there.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. smzang says:


    Your post says “Happy Thanksgiving” in the most beautiful way.
    Thank you!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and a special drumstick shaped tuna biscuit for Misha.

    Many Blessings,


    Liked by 2 people

  12. Ann Coleman says:

    What a perfect story! Sometimes all it take is one person to step to the plate.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Amazing story! So thankful for the angels God sends.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Jennie says:

    Bravo! 👏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  15. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Love it. I am glad the strong arm of the Lord still flexes. Pump it up!

    In Christ,


    Liked by 2 people

  16. That was great. I’m not joking.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. theresaly520 says:

    I laughed! What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. I loved it! I will appreciate living in a state where “everything is bigger in Texas” including our hearts.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Saude says:

    Very good post!


  19. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    Liked by 1 person

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