Flying First Class

On a flight to Port-au-Prince Haiti of all places, I had the great fortune of being upgraded by American Airlines to First Class. I was traveling with a group from our church, and volunteer nurses to spend a week on a medical mission trip. Dr. Mark was sitting next to me equally enjoying the experience.

I’ve always found it interesting to walk by first class and imagine just who these people are sitting in such spacious seats. Now, lo and behold, I was among them. Did I like it? No, I loved it. With the leg room for 7 footer and a powered recliner was just the start. Next up, the fresh coffee before takeoff, followed by a warmed variety of nuts, who knew it was so good. It was a contest between Mark and myself as to who had the biggest grin on our faces.

Besides the endless and most excellent service, we even had a nice small steak dinner to keep the energy levels up for what lay ahead. Dr. Mark did get put to task though as a lady in the first row had some stomach issues confounding her. The stewardess asked if he would mind talking with her, and he of course went straight into action. Did I mention the warm baked cookie after dinner? Yah, that was good too. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck; I know a good thing when I see it.

As the plane landed they gave us all the extra snacks we could take for Dr. Mark’s effort. The only sad thing was having to leave such accommodations. Duties called however, and we most regretfully gathered our belongings and left paradise behind. 

Besides being very grateful for the experience I departed the flight with a nice thought: "What if we treated everyone like they were in First Class"?

After gathering all the teams’ luggage we headed out the airport and loaded it all in a small dump truck which also served as my transportation.  For this part of the journey I was hanging on in the back with a few of the nurses, and my nieces Olivia and Ciara for the ride through Port-au-Prince and up to the mission house.  Pretty much like riding a roller coaster in traffic.

Our mission for the week was to treat as many of the poor and sick that we could manage. We tried hard to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Probably the hardest part for me, along with my co-worker Ed, in gathering their vital signs as they entered the clinic, was the language barrier. With the kids it was easy, a sucker and a smile wins them every time. With the adults it was much more of a challenge.

One of my take a ways from this particular trip was to fulfill that ideal of treating everyone better. Of course some individuals will go out of their way to earn disrespect, but they are the exception to the rule. The world is simply a better place when we put forth such effort.

So my thanks to American Airlines and the crew working the Miami to Port-au-Prince route for the example set. I hope we set an equal example to the families in Haiti we served. Me and First Class, well, we need to meet again soon.


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