5. Strength

Once I was waiting for a flight from Santa Fe to St. Louis, and the plane – a small 12-seater – was delayed for two hours. A thin, blonde, chain-smoking woman who was also waiting for the same flight started yelling at some poor airline employee that she was GOING TO BE LATE AND MISS HER CONNECTING FLIGHT!

It was pretty obvious that we all were all going to miss our respective connections. No one knew what had caused the delay until the plane landed and a complicated deplaning ensued. A person strapped to a gurney was slowly carried out. He was hooked up to several life-support devices and attended by a phalanx of doctors and nurses – clearly a life-and-death situation, and a perfectly understandable cause of delay.

To the general incredulity of the other passengers, the blonde woman ran out onto the tarmac, brushed past the medical staff and boarded the plane. One of the ground crew went in and chastised her, but let her stay. Eventually the rest of us boarded the plane, and the pilots apologized for the delay and got us airborne.