I confess. I am a huge fan of Del Griffith. Del Griffith? You know, the shower curtain ring guy played by John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles!
One of the character traits that impresses me most about Del is his “take it as it comes” approach to life. A widowed traveling salesman with no permanent home (“I haven’t been home in years,” he says), Del experienced tragedy in his life at the loss of his beloved wife. That loss placed the daily inconveniences of life into proper perspective for Del. As a traveling salesman, life’s inconveniences often manifest themselves in the form of travel delays. Diverted from Chicago to Wichita, KS during Thanksgiving week, Del meets cynical marketing executive Neal Page, played by Steve Martin. Together the two are the epitome of yin and yang; Del’s glass is half full while Neal’s is slightly less than half empty.
I travel on business regularly, and today was one of those Murphy’s Law travel days. And, like Del, “I’m just rolling with the flow, like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream.”
Or am I? For me, today was a travel day in which much went wrong, starting with a thunderstorm perfectly timed to delay my early morning departure from DFW airport and ending with a departure delay of just over an hour headed home from Corpus Christi. How did I handle it? Did I “roll with the flow like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream” or did I get frustrated and let my frustration show to those around me? Was I a Del Griffith or was I a Neal Page? Was I a discourager or was I an encourager?
To be honest, I was a little of both. Neal Page would be proud of my Facebook posts from this afternoon. Rather than reassure my family and friends that these travel delays were no big deal and all would be fine, I posted items designed to drag people into my pit of travel misery to wallow there with me. After all, why wallow alone? However, as the cynical approach began to weigh me down I decided to change my tactics. I met eyes and exchanged smiles with my fellow passengers. I made a TSA agent laugh as I caught her making fun of the way I dumped my backpack onto the security conveyor – classic Del Griffith.
Life is short. It’s far too short to live as a cynic. Cynics are too busy being cynical to enjoy the curveball moments life throws at us every once in awhile. Life threw me some curveballs today. The Neal Page in me whiffed a few, and the Del hit a few solid singles. For now, I’m enjoying the lightening show playing for me outside my airplane window as the twin Rolls Royce engines on this Embraer jet (it’s amazing what you learn from listening to flight attendant Tom’s in-flight announcements) whisk me home to the DFW Metroplex.
“These dogs are barkin’!” They are, indeed, but they’re happy now. Thanks, Del. Maybe I’m on the right track.