It wasn’t the long lines at the airport security nor the air of desperation that hung in the air that had set him off. He gritted his teeth and smiled through the screaming children and the trolleys of baggage bumping into his heels, thinking that he’d soon be on his way. Excited to be traveling, he had no idea that someone was about to spoil it all.
He patiently waited for his turn, and when a rude woman piped up from behind he tried to remain calm. But when she continued to harass him, he saw red. But later, he would have to be the one to apologize for his behavior.
If you’ve been to an airport and flown at least once in your life, you probably already know what a stressful experience it can be. Delayed flights, long queues, lost luggage, and being singled out for a search at airport security can all get a person’s blood boiling.
But Emmit wasn’t about to let anything get him down today. He had been saving for this trip for months and had even decided to splurge on a first-class ticket as a birthday gift to himself. Little did he know, an entitled woman was about to ruin his day.
A Well-Deserved Vacation
Emmit was on his way to the Dominican Republic. He had worked extra hard during the previous weeks to make sure that he had cleared his workload. He had even planned to fly out the day before his birthday so that he had more than enough time to celebrate and unwind when he arrived.
He had planned for every eventuality, but he was caught completely unprepared for the nastiness that he was about to encounter.
He’d Worked Hard For It
Emmit hummed and tapped his feet as he waited in line. Life was good. He had made something of himself, and now he was reaping the rewards. His hard work as a music executive meant that he worked long hours, but at this moment it all seemed worth it. He couldn’t wait to kick back and enjoy some much needed R&R.
Emmit had no idea that the smile was about to be wiped off his face.
A Voice From Behind
He watched the line shuffle forward and the anticipation of boarding his flight and finally getting off his feet was almost too much to bear. But then he heard a high-pitched voice coming from behind him and felt someone trying to push past. “Excuse me…” the whining voice continued. “I believe you may be in the wrong place.”
Emmit turned to find out what this woman could possibly be talking about. He checked the sign indicating that the line was indeed for first-class flyers. Was this a joke? She must have made a mistake.
Emmit looked at the middle-aged woman, puzzled. But before he could tell her that she was wrong, she insisted: “I believe you may be in the wrong place, you need to let us through. This line is for priority booking.” She didn’t even try to hide the condescending tone in her voice.
Emmit replied calmly: “priority meaning first class, correct?” But still, the woman wouldn’t let it go.
Keeping The Peace
“Yes,” the woman snapped, “now excuse me. They will call y’all after we board.” Now, Emmit was confused. Why was this woman so sure that he was waiting in the wrong line? And why had she singled him out? he was beginning to get annoyed.
He pulled out his ticket from his wallet and proceeded to show the woman that he was exactly where he was meant to be. He didn’t owe this woman anything, but Emmit thought that it would put an end to the altercation. He was wrong.
The woman looked scandalized. Her face turned downward into an unfriendly frown and she said something loudly to her friends… deliberately loud enough for Emmit to hear. “He must be military or something,” she moaned, passive-aggressively. “But we paid for our seats so he still should have to wait.”
Emmit couldn’t believe his ears. Not wanting to cause a scene in the airport, he mentally tried to think of excuses for her behavior. She obviously had assumed that he couldn’t afford a first-class ticket. But why?
Just Plain Rude
He gently explained that he had been waiting in line first and that he wasn’t going to move. She would just have to wait like everyone else. But when he heard her snide comment, he was incredulous.
Could it be that he was underdressed for the flight? He didn’t think so. And looking at the rude woman’s clothes, she didn’t look like she was particularly well-dressed, either. He didn’t want to reach the conclusion that he did, but he couldn’t avoid the issue any longer.
Who Did She Think She Was?
Emmit turned back to the audacious woman and retorted: “Nope, too big to be in anybody’s military.” In fact, it was because of Emmit’s large stature that he had booked a first-class ticket in the first place. A first-class seat would give him the space he needed to fly comfortably.
With his thoughts racing a-mile-a-minute, Emmit knew even before the retort had left his mouth that it wouldn’t be enough to put the woman in her place. Who was she to challenge him about his right to be there?
The Elephant In The Room
Besides, servicemen and women serving in the military aren’t given first-class seats for free, either. Why was this sour woman trying to rationalize how he, an African-American man, could afford to fly first class? And what business was it of hers anyway?
By now, bystanders were gathering around. Some were rubbernecking to see what the commotion was about, and others wanted a piece of the action. Emmit wouldn’t disappoint them. Something inside him snapped.
Putting Her In Her Place
Emmit turned back to the entitled woman, and what he said to her next had the entire crowd clapping. The woman needed to be taken down a peg, and he was going to be the one to do it.
Even though Emmit was non-confrontational by nature, he needed to stand up for himself. He shot a remark at her and she looked like she had been struck in the face by his words. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she recoiled in horror.
Calling Her Out
Emmit had told the audacious and judgemental woman that no, he wasn’t in the military. He was just an African-American man with money. Only, the words he chose to use contained a slur to really drive the point home.
The crowd exploded with cheers and applause, delighted by Emmit’s witty retort and loving the woman’s public comeuppance. But the story wasn’t over yet.
Taking A Stand
What Emmit had done was commended by all who witnessed it – in their eyes, he had taken a firm stand against intolerance. The woman had clearly deserved it. He shared the story on Facebook, but he only expected his friends to see it.
Little did he know, the situation was about to be turned on its head. Soon, he’d have to retract what he’d said.
Within just two days, Emmit’s post had been shared over 250,000 times. Now, it has been shared by over 300,000 people. Hundreds of comments poured in, praising Emmit’s response to the woman’s inappropriate behavior. “Never judge a book by its cover,” one admirer wrote.
“She is so ignorant it makes no sense that people like her still exist. Enjoy yourself, you handled it well.” But soon, Emmit would regret everything.
Not What He Wanted
By the time Emmit had arrived at his destination, the post had gone viral. He couldn’t believe how many times it had been shared, and how many people had commented on his story. So many people from all over the world commended his actions.
But instead of being thrilled about the publicity, Emmit was dismayed.
All The Wrong Reasons
Emmit believed that his post had gone viral for all the wrong reasons. “This racist stuff is definitely an issue but this is not the solution to that issue,” he wrote. He had had time to think carefully about what had happened while he was on his flight.
But he knew just what he had to do about it.
“It brings me no joy waking up in paradise,” he wrote. On his 37th birthday – the day he was meant to be celebrating – he had found out he had caused another person to go through “hell.”
There were also some people who claimed that his original post had been a fake. It was time to address these people as well.
Taking The High Road
“The story was definitely real, just like this issue is definitely real, but I now know that I myself should have handled it another way, or left it how it was, and not shared it publicly.”
Emmit knew that instead of discouraging intolerance in the world, his post was only highlighting it. It was time to be the bigger person.
Right And Wrong
“When dealing with people, I always try to stay on the side of Right, so to make sure I never do anybody wrong, I try to always put myself in that person’s shoes, and ask how would I feel if that person did this to me,” Emmit wrote on Instagram.
“And if I was her this morning I would be a total wreck today, and that doesn’t help this situation, or her… it only makes them more angry, and brings more drama…” Emmit decided to put things right.
“SO I WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE AGAIN TO THE WOMAN I HAD THIS ENCOUNTER WITH YESTERDAY. NO MATTER HOW WRONG YOUR ACTIONS YOU DON’T DESERVE THIS,” He wrote in all caps. “I BELIEVE IF YOU CAN’T HELP NOBODY AT THE VERY LEAST YOU SHOULD NEVER DO ANYTHING TO HURT THEM.”
Unfortunately, the woman hasn’t accepted his apology. But if Emmit had a chance to redo that day, he’d choose to be a force for good – even if the rude woman didn’t deserve it.