Easter is a time when many of us travel by plane. The airports are a crush. The line ups are painful. The security is something else. Delays are seemingly inevitable. Getting the kids ready, packed and on board is something one can only experience.
There we are, finally seated in the aircraft, then the fun begins, all the rest of it was only an introduction for Easter travellers, especially for families. I can see the reader now chuckling with knowing nods dreading their turn on an Easter flight.
One of my research people sent me from their archive an old Sydney Morning Herald travel story on the 'dos' and 'don'ts' of airline travel. An etiquette expert, Anna Post, wrote a set of rules one should follow to ensure a pleasant flight for yourself and your fellow passengers. Happy Easter travel!
In the article, Anna Post asks questions as: who owns the middle seat arm rests on an airplane, really? How do you break away from the marathon talker in seat 12E? And what do you do, if anything, about the angelic-looking child kicking the back of your seat? Happy Easter travel!
"Incivility and rudeness are often the product of stress," wrote Anna Post, "And there are few situations more primed for stress these days than travel - especially air travel."
Travellers once thought of an international flight as glamorous – or at least an adventure. However, today the reality is long queues for everything, rigid rules about baggage (with passengers stressed about whether their bags are 1kg overweight), rigorous security procedures – and more long queues. Then there is always the possibility of flight delays, which increases the anxiety some have about flying anyway. These things may not be new; but once on the plane, the seating now seems to be more cramped and the meal service reduced and of lower quality.
Anna Post suggests while you may have little or no control over long security lines, weather delays, the cabin environment or your choice of seat mate, you can control how you react to adversity. "A sense of humour will serve you well," and suggests a few tips to help people to cope, while planning their itineraries.
Anna Post, a spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute gives 10 of many etiquette suggestions for air travel in this Sydney Morning Herald article, and a more detailed article can be read on the Emily Post Institute's web site.
The Easter trip
Here we are, readying for our four day Easter adventure, and we have on board these air travel etiquette guide lines, the kids are on their best behaviour (as they leave the house) under threat of the Easter bunny's GPS failing to find us on holiday, and we're part of the world-wide family of evangelicals.
The question is, will this be a case of losing all our evangelical life tips as the family claws their way to their seats in the air craft their Jurassic Park noises and tit for tad fighting amongst the kids. It's the nightmare of the true blue evangelical.
What's more, you're tired, you've had an exhaustive set of pre Easter events in the local church, you've transported the kids hither and thither for such Easter events, the home group wouldn't go home (it is Easter), you've heard weeks of messages leading up to Easter, and all you want to do on that aircraft seat, is lie your head back, and doze off. Happy Easter travel !
But you might not have a family but be by yourself and alas, the person seated next to you is troubled. They may be going through a separation, maybe attending to a divorce, struggling with the kids, perhaps a family member is elderly and seriously ill, or perhaps it is the eternal trouble with work where 'the boss doesn't understand', 'the pressure' - whatever - and they want to talk. Happy Easter travel!
I have found very few people, yet to get on a plane and someone next to them or nearby is problematic free. Recently I was on a flight and the lady in front with a loud voice told the gentleman next to her the dramas of certain people in her realm. Not once but several times. The passengers behind and in front heard it several times too.
Good things happen too: a little while ago, while waiting in the Sydney airport terminal, an African American gentleman in his late twenties struck up a conversation with me. It transpired that his parents were committed Christians, but that he had strayed from the Lord's path, and he hadn't spoken to his mother for over a month. One thing led to another, and with a prayer of re-commitment to the Lord Jesus, the young man made a phone call to 'Mom' in the States.
How should we?
So how should anyone of us this Easter, as an evangelical layperson, minister or leader respond? Here are four possible responses, and I leaves the question open for you to ponder in your heart.
One: Do you totally ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit and go to sleep?
Two: Do you put aside the prompting of the Holy Spirit to sometime later in the flight and go to sleep, secretly hoping that when you wake up, the other person is asleep?
Three: Do you bring forth from your brief case your large thick black 'Holy Bible' and start reading aloud?
Four: Do you allow a conversation to develop and as the Holy Spirit opens the heart of the other person, you seek His guidance in how to respond?
Well, it might be providential happy Easter travels!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html