Monday, August 3, 2015

“The Lion King” and “Aladdin” Get the Best of a LaGuardia Situation

Travel delays are never fun, but from time to time they are bound to happen. You can’t expect the weather to cooperate every time you fly, and better they should repair those mechanical issues before you fasten your seat belt.

I’ve learned to take a deep breath, chill, remind myself it’s not the end of the world, and then look for a way to appreciate whatever extra time I’m now spending in the airport. Reading always works for me, so does getting in some phone-chat time with girlfriends, or cleaning out my inbox if all else fails.

But recently, the Broadway cast members of “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” took appreciating your unanticipated down-time in an airport to a whole new level. During their six-hour weather delay in New York’s LaGuardia Airport, they had a sing-off! It was truly an extraordinary event, captured on someone’s phone, and uploaded to YouTube [].

What a choice these cast members made! Rather than bemoan the hot, crowded conditions of the airport, rather than complain endlessly about what the delay meant to their plans, or how bored they were, or anything else, they turned to what they could value in that moment, they started singing. First one, then another, then the whole cast of “The Lion King” joined in to sing songs from their award-winning show. Whereupon the “Aladdin” cast responded with their songs--including an amazing free-style rap by James Inglehart, who plays the Genie in the show.

Not only did the cast members of these shows counter the potentially adverse effects of negativity on their well-being, they uplifted everyone within earshot in that airport! You can see the smiles on other passengers’ faces as their mood changed from “Oy ve” to “Hurrah”! Because everyone was in the same weather-delay boat; it took deliberate, conscious focus to switch from ain’t-it-awful to better thoughts and feelings. Something the cast members accomplished with ease.

Contrast this with the behavior I witnessed a few weeks prior at another airport. My flight was mechanical-issue delayed for three hours, then canceled entirely. We were transferred to a different flight, which meant another delay of about two hours. OK, such is life. Finally, we were in line to board our designated aircraft, just waiting for the previous passengers to get off the plane, and the few minutes required for the cleaning crew to do their thing.

A man standing at the head of our line was vigorously complaining to the ground attendant in charge of taking our boarding passes about how long it was taking the previous passengers to deplane. How he’d had it with all this waiting, and what a horrible airline this was, and what horrible service. There was more of course. I stood there, with my jaw dropped. Here the airline had kept us safe (off a plane not fit to fly), found us seats on another flight, we were about to board, and the man was first in line. It was probably one of the finest examples of complete lack of appreciation I have ever seen. At the very least, the man could have valued his position at the front of the line, and appreciated the fact that he only had another ten minutes, tops, to wait before getting to his seat.

I don’t even want to know what that man’s heart condition is like. What I do know, is that those Broadway cast members, with their ability to switch their focus to what they could appreciate, what they could do--sing!--as opposed to what they couldn’t do (get on a plane right then) had their hearts not only in the right place for the joy they brought themselves and everyone else in that airport, but also in the very best place for their long-term health and vitality.

    Now don’t you wish you’d had that travel delay?!

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