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Gucci Lady, Flight Attendants, and My Three New Friends

Hey Kids!

Her luggage was pink. It was Gucci. Her shoes were a shade darker. Her jacket was a shade darker than the shoes. No it wasn’t Anna Nicole. And how screwed up are we as a society that our world came to a virtual standstill for a person who many considered a gold-digging slut? Now before you get all crazy on me keep reading.

Gucci lady was standing in front of me at the airport waiting to check-in. She was whining and complaining to the woman in front of her about her last trip. She was forced to turn over her moisturizer because it was above the size that is now allowed in your carry-on luggage. She was complaining that she had to buy a replacement. The woman in front of her ran to the counter when it was her turn. Gucci Lady turned to me. I just looked at her with one of those “for Christ’s sake lady you’ve got Gucci luggage, buy a new moisturizer” looks.

My layover was in Philadelphia on my way to New Orleans. I was sipping a cup of coffee and two flight attendants were whining to each other about how they had a three hour layover. Hooray!!! The flights attendants are delayed. Feel our pain! But to hear them complaining about it was hysterical. So of course I made a comment. For those of you who have been hanging here with me for a while I hope you would have said something too.

“I find it quite amusing that you’re complaining about your three hour layover. Now you know what the rest of us go through” I said to them.

“Oh we’re not delayed. They scheduled our flights three hours apart. Would you believe it? Now we are stuck in this airport” she responded.

“It’s not like you’re gonna be late for work” I humorously responded.

She was pissed and walked away muttering something. Hence another reason I call them Useless Airways and fly them as the airline of last resort.

Did I say I was on my way to New Orleans? I had a two day business meeting to attend and I decided to add a couple of days onto my trip to do my part to help rebuild. This was my first trip back to my favorite U.S. city since Hurricane Katrina and I was already anxious about what I was going to see and the stories I was about to hear. To hear Gucci Lady and the flight attendants going off on nonsense was enough to make anyone want to hit them.

A colleague met me at the airport and whisked me off for a tour. I saw parts of the city that are nothing but a ghost town. Block after city block where one or two families may have rebuilt and moved back. The French Quarter and the Central Business District are alive and well. Most people would think the city has completely rebounded. That’s because most people only see the French Quarter and Central Business District when they visit New Orleans. They don’t visit East New Orleans or Uptown or the 8th and 9th Ward. I did.

Friday morning I hailed a taxi. When I gave the driver the address of Timothy House, a ministry for the homeless and recovering addicts, I knew the driver thought I was nuts. You could see the little cloud-shaped callout above his head with the words “why is this white man in a propeller hat going to ‘the hood’?” I arrived at 2229 Ursuline and my life was about to change; perhaps yours will too!

I spent two days hanging sheetrock with three men who were born again; who found god. Don’t worry, I am not about to go religious on you. But over the course of two days I saw three guys who most people would think were worthless human beings, exhibit signs of happiness and hope. They were still alive. Yes, each one of them told me they would be dead had they not found the ministry. So if religion is the thing that kept them alive, that works for me. I am not about to pass judgment. I stopped counting how many times the lord was thanked after a couple of hours. As uncomfortable as it was making me at times, I realized its importance to them.

They eat peanut butter and jelly for lunch – almost every day; turkey necks for dinner. I cannot change that permanently, but I changed it for two days. We ate fried chicken and Subway sandwiches for lunch during our two days together. I don’t eat fried chicken. I did one of those days. I brought them beignets on our second morning together. You would think I gave them gold nuggets. Appreciation was abundant. And then I got thinking…….

Gucci Lady is whining about moisturizer. Flight Attendants are whining about schedules. We complain when our wireless cable is out for an hour. I myself broke down the other morning and called hotel security at 3:30 AM. The party in the courtyard outside my room needed to be shut down. Would it really have been terrible if I lost one night sleep? Software and computer glitches have led to heads rolling in corporations. Heck, if the network is down we forget there are these tools called paper, ink, calculators and dictionaries. We complain about organizational change. We get pissed waiting in line for our $4 cup of coffee. I can go on and on here.

But then I think about three guys who are thrilled to eat PB&J and Turkey Necks in exchange for being alive. I know three guys who were sharing two hammers, one drill, one screwdriver, one router and two cutting blades. Oh wait, make that four guys sharing those tools for two days. They’re sharing basic simple tools to rebuild their lives and someone else’s. I also met the woman whose house we were rebuilding. This project is taking forever. They are so far behind schedule that most people would have tossed the sorry contractors out on their butts. She is just thrilled that this ministry has a team of contractors.

I’m getting back on a plane this afternoon. Who knows, maybe Gucci Lady and I will get a seat next to each other on the way back to Hartford? I would love to have the opportunity to share with her things that are worth getting crazed over. But my gut is she wouldn’t get it. But here’s the part where I hope you will………

Where have you been crazed? When was that last little inconvenience in your life? Was it really that terrible? What would you do without your Blackberry for one day? When was the last time you picked up a loose end for someone else on your team? And did it willingly, not to later gossip, point fingers, or find fault? You know what I am talking about.

If you ever need some perspective, I’ve given you the address to go visit.

Rich Digirolamo