If someone were to ask me about top tips for traveling, my biggest one would be don’t sweat the small stuff when things go wrong. We’ve all seen the people gritting their teeth as they go along. A flight delay becomes reason to scowl. Weather issues & turbulence make the teeth grip tighter. And a storm that brings snow and freezing rain to Atlanta…. well that’s reason for many people to flat out go ballistic! Patience in the face of adversity is not nearly as common as adversity itself.
The whole equation unfolded last weekend in Atlanta. But it was TOTALLY different than every other experience along this line. It may have been because I hadn’t gotten to the airport when the storms hit so I didn’t encounter too many people stranded along the way. But I think it also had to do with the way the people I was with generally react to adversity if you ask me. So let me explain on this a bit.
I was in Atlanta with 5,500 farmers and ranchers from across the US. And I wrote a blog post about some of the general hospitality I had the privilege to receive. But I’ve been thinking a bit more. And I think when you step back and look at it, people had just as much right to get all out of sorts as anyone else.
Hotels for the meeting were up to 10 blocks away which meant long, cold walks for several people getting to and from meetings. But for many it also meant a chance for some fun, or quiet walks in a city known for traffic hassles almost as much as it is for Coca-Cola, peaches and the Olympics.
There we were with quite a few parents more than a thousand miles from their kids. People with jobs they needed to get back to for work. Or people who had simply put in their time and were to have flown home on Monday, a day when almost nothing in Atlanta was moving. But these people are used to facing adversity. They do chores to take care of livestock when snow is piled up a foot or more high. Alarm clocks may be set for 3:30 a.m. EVERY DAY to get to the barn and milk the dairy cows. They can put months of work into a crop to have a hailstorm or something blow through and be left with nothing. And yet, they take a break, visit with friends or family over dinner, etc.
Yes, these people can endure four or five cancelled flights, telling their children each time that they will be home as soon as they can. And they can still smile as they head out for a meal with friends.
I wouldn’t suggest the character trait patience in the face of adversity is something farmers have that others don’t, however, I wonder if its more exercised with that profession than some others. When the expectation is you roll with the punches, that’s exactly what happens. We made do with the extra time in Atlanta, visited with the folks we knew and still got home at the earliest time possible.