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  • Patricia Northrup


ALOHA!!! Life has smiled on you when you realize that you are telling people that your paid job is taking you to one of the most beautiful places in the world. Hawaii!! My pool time has given me time to put some thoughts to paper.

RECREATIONAL OUTRAGE is the topic of today’s blog…….it is a term that has made me really think. My last First Officer introduced me to it. When I told him I had to steal it, he told me he did not create it but have at it. Nevertheless, it is brilliant. I did look it up in the urban dictionary:

RECREATIONAL OUTRAGE : Getting mad and venting about political, religious, racial, or other topics and venting about them to the point at which it becomes a hobby.

I was actually surprised that this is the definition…..albiet, this is absolutely true. Turn on any television show and everyone is yelling and arguing and it does seem a bit for sport and ratings.

The way I see it, however, is that the majority of outrage in our culture so incredibly privileged. We have so much “stuff”, leisure time, excess in everything, that most of our problems stem from that privilege. What we believe we deserve in terms of treatment and things; our expectations of perfection in all the service we receive and the items we purchase. Our culture has totally departed from allowing room for the humanity woven into it and the grace we all require to survive each day. We need it but we are stingy to give it.

I have tried to evaluate my own “recreational outrage”…..I fight being outrageous and although I feel that I am succeeding, my lack of awareness fails me at times.

I remember landing the plane as a First Officer about 15 years ago. As my husband knows, I live and die by my landings……it is just a personal point of pride for me to properly plan the approach and roll that airplane on the runway. This was one of those days that I did just that…as the passengers deplaned, an older woman and her husband came up the aisle. She grabbed my arm gently and said, “Please tell the Captain that that was the best landing I have ever experienced.” I was beaming when I told her that the landing was mine and said, “Thank you!” She nearly dropped her cane. Her shock and awe that I had landed her airplane, rocked her world. I was incensed. A litany of comebacks raced through my brain. How dare she not realize what a great pilot I am…..was it that I am small? young? female?…all of the above? Well, I am embarrassed to say that this was the comeback I grabbed from the scroll in my head and spoke to this elderly woman….”You know, we vote too”……her look to me was utter confusion but the sharped tongue comment was not lost on her husband. He shuffled her off the airplane probably not to fly American Airlines again. I was OUTRAGED. Hmmm……recreationally so…….as there was really nothing to truly be angry about. I had my job, my family, my world in tact but someone did not give me the recognition I deserved…….that was my outrage.

On a recent trip, I approached the gate and all of the flight attendants were sitting waiting to board. I asked which of them was the #1 flight attendant and Diane quickly turned on her heels and identified herself. I told her that I was headed on board and once she was onboard and settled just to let me know and I would come back to brief the flight attendants on our flight. She responded immediately, “And who are you??!!” Before I could put my foot in my mouth, the #4 flight attendant told Diane, “uhhhhh, that’s your Captain!”

Feeling that I had grown so much since my incident in 2003, I extended as much grace as I could muster…..I told her it was no problem…….just let me know when we can all brief.

From that point forward we spent the next 7 hours of our time together in a perpetual state of apology…every time I saw her she would explain why she had made the error. I looked young like a new hire flight attendant, I was small, etc…….to be honest, all of the reasons just got under my skin and made the situation worse. I could not get off that plane fast enough because my grace meter was pegged. I just wanted her to drop it….not going to happen….. for 7 long hours.

I came home and talked to my wise husband about the entire incident and he enlightened me to my error……in reality, the entire incident was entirely my fault. Don’t get “outraged” by this……yet.

“Were you still wearing the plain trenchcoat you had on when you left the house?” “Yes”

“Did you introduce yourself to the group as Captain Murray?” “No”

I saw his point.

Wow…..By simply making sure I identified myself, I could have avoided this whole situation.

If I had just told Diane, “I am sorry, I failed to identify myself and it was 100% my fault” she may have stopped trying to fix her error. But I never let her off the hook….dang. Just when we think we have learned, something new pops up.

So no more recreational outrage for me. Grace filled relief instead……these incidents were not personal, they were humans being human.

I think that is what really makes this imperfect world amazing and beautiful….the humanity and the grace filled relief we give each other to be human.


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