Photo: slum children in Bangladesh
“Complainers are so annoying. Remind me of this the next time I complain about anything,” I texted my husband John from an airplane while I was waiting to take off.
A few weeks ago, I flew across the country to visit my family for a long weekend. I loaded my iPod up with podcasts and took along a book by Muhammad Yunus. Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, which loans small sums of money to the very poor of Bangladesh and has spearheaded the microcredit movement to fight poverty.
My 3-hour layover quickly turned to 4 hours when the pilot was late. Then we taxied out to the runway only to return to the terminal because of a problem with a door. So we had to wait to get back in line to take off. During this fiasco, I was reading about how Yunus started Grameen Bank and about the problem of extreme poverty in his country. In the row of seats in front of me, a woman my parents’ age and 2 girls my age were bitching about the delays and firing off comments of scathing vitriol about the crew and the airline. Their attitudes made them seem childish and silly, and the whole scene felt absurd against the backdrop of stories about impoverished women in one of the poorest countries in the world. In fact, everyone around me was complaining. I wanted to stand up and yell, “You’re all being stupid ridiculous selfish Americans!”
Now, this is easy for me to say because I *like* flying. I like having a book, podcasts, and nothing to do but sit quietly and relax. I have airport security down to a science. I’ve got my little bag of liquids and gels. I pack light and never check baggage. I don’t mind layovers and waiting around (again with the sitting quietly and relaxing…something I have trouble doing normally and so relish in airports).
But this was a good reminder to be more easy-going, to put things in perspective, to watch my attitude when I’m feeling annoyed, to think about how my attitude would look to another person. I am a natural complainer, and I’m trying really hard not to be.