The story below is true. I told this in the finale of the Swedish championship in storytelling, and was awarded the bronze medal. Enjoy ^_^
The slightly irritated gentleman next to me on the plane
I was flying home from a successful keynote speech in Lithuania. It was a pretty small aircraft. Two seats on each side of a narrow isle. I was in a good mood during the short, uneventful flight to Stockholm and smiled as I felt a light bump when the tires met the ground and the plane slowed down.
When the vehicle came to a full stop, the light telling us to keep the seatbelts on went out. As usual, everyone sitting next to the isle jumped up. I did too. Since it wasn’t much room, I brushed my arm against the older gentleman on the other side of the isle who also was standing up. It wasn’t hard or anything but he snapped. “You rude idiot! You have no manners whatsoever!” he yelled, and he kept going with tirades of insults.
I was at first taken aback by the attack but then my brain stepped up its game. “Well, Excuuuuuuse me” I heard myself saying. “What an impolite behavior of me to stand up just when you were doing the same. Unbelievable!”
He kept snarling and pointed out that his seat was way further to the exit door than mine. I checked and he was actually right. His seat was a full ten centimeters ahead of mine. “Oh my goodness! You are soooo right. Now I feel even moooore embarrassed.” I said.
The sarcasm didn’t go unnoticed, but I was fed up and turned my back to him, facing the rear end of the plane. Two Norwegians looked at me laughing at the whole thing. I put some more gasoline to the fire, saying in a just loud enough voice for the old man to hear: “I guess something must have happened to him before he boarded the plane.” The two guys laughed. The crazy man started to put his weight on my back and then he started to elbow me in the ribs. “Do you see what he’s doing?” I asked the laughing dudes. “This is absurd.” I took a small step towards the guys and the old man nearly fell over.
I turned back to him. By now, smoke came out of his ears. He was fuming and clenching his fists. Shit, I might need to wrestle this old man down, I thought and decided to put on my most commanding voice. “What is your goal now!” I said.
“To never see your face again!” he replied, red-faced, on his way to a heart attack.
“Then I suggest you turn around and face the front of the plane!”
He did just that. When all passengers in front of us had left the plane, he finally stepped forward and disappeared from my life forever… Physically that is. The memory will probably never go away.
By telling you all this, you might also have a good laugh at the old man. He was by all means bat shit crazy. But the moral of this story is not that I was a hero, and he was the crook. The real villain in the story is me. I could have stayed in my seat. Or I could have apologized and just sat down again. Of course, something must have been bothering him before the incident since his over-reaction was ridiculous, or perhaps his role in this drama was to be what Bruce describes as a Rebel showing his worst sides of being destructive and out of control. But I still feel I should have acted better because I know better. I am supposed to be this international communication expert and I failed miserably.
But it is a good story nevertheless, that got me a bronze medal in the Swedish championship of Storytelling 2019!
// Antoni Lacinai
Antoni Lacinai is an international keynote speaker and workplace communication wizard. He supports conscious leaders and teams, often in large organizations, who want to be world class communicators, utilizing a unique blueprint, called Communication insights /Collective intelligence based on psychology and years of research. This facilitates high engagement, peak performance – and more fun at work.
About the story
I like stories that has a twist. In this story, the twist actually happens afterwards, in what we can call a reflective moment. The story itself is a memory and as accurate as I recall it. The true moral of the story is that you have no idea of what baggage people are carrying when your meet them so be nice. You know what; be nice regardless. It’s good for you.