What To Do With a Bad Day


I thought I was getting out on an early flight home. Time was tight but this was a small airport and my gate was literally less than 10 feet from security. I heard my name called over the intercom as I was collecting my bags. The TSA agent wanted to do extra screening of one of my bags, of course, so I stepped aside, made eye contact with the gate agent and yelled out “I’m here. I’ll be there as soon as they let me go.”

What to do when you're having a bad day

Within a couple of minutes I was ready to board. I didn’t expect what I heard, “Sorry, the flight is closed. You’re going to have to take the next one.”  “You have got to be kidding me!” I was just incredulous.  “Didn’t you see and hear me?” I asked the agent who didn’t bother looking up from the computer. “I waited over 4 minutes.” She didn’t budge. I will not write down the thoughts that flooded my mind on what to say to this woman. The only thing I said was “one day when you’re trying to get home you’ll run into someone like you and you’ll know how this feels like.”

But this is not a blog about the bad service experience from the American Airlines agent, but what happened afterwards. Moments later I had a great exchange with a couple of young people at the snack area across from the gate. They witness my whole ordeal and were sympathetic: “man, that really stinks.” After much debate and discussion we figured out how to get a low carb, low fat, high protein meal out of their limited and mostly fried menu.

As I ate my double turkey wheat wrap, I thought of my predicament, which in light of everything else in life wasn’t much of one at all. I readjusted my attitude and decided that perhaps my purpose in being there longer was to bless instead of blast someone. Trust me, that’s not usually what goes through my mind when I’m stranded in small airports. I got up, walked up to the helpful young man behind the counter and gave him a tip.

A very big tip.

His eyes got big and he looked back at me, and before he could say anything, I said, “thank you for working hard and doing your job well.” Instantly I settled down. Just a few minutes before I was plotting on how to push the sour gate agent downstairs while making it look like an accident, but now I was enjoying the reaction of my new best friend at the snack bar. “This has turned out ok,” I thought to myself.

My personal challenge and I’ll extend it to you as well is a simple one: next time our day doesn’t go as planned, instead of letting the circumstances makes us mad, let’s focus that energy into blessing someone else—particularly someone whom we’ll never see again. That might just make all the difference.

What’s your most memorable bad day? What happened?

  • I have done this several times in the past, and it is *incredible* what it does for my relationship with God. It sends me straight to his throne, humbled by His love for me…the way He blesses me and tips me, even when I don’t deserve it. Amazing…

  • Love this post! I’m going to try and remember to “bless instead of blast”. Thanks for sharing….

    • I need to remember that every day, Marcia. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but I cracked up all the way through that one. I know how you feel though. I got stuck in NY once and missed my flight home. I spent the night alone in Cincinnati when I was expecting to be on a date with my girlfriend at the time. It was so frustrating. Glad to see you got a good meal and made a new friend.

    • Kevin, I’m glad that my misfortune is amusing to you. 🙂

  • Derek Brown

    This is a really great post. Thanks!

  • melissa

    I love the way you changed your attitude and found God’s plan in your circumstances and I know how frustrating air travel can be… I am a flight attendant for American Airlines. nnSo maybe I can shed some light on why the agent closed the door on the aircraft even though you were only minutes late and she saw you coming though security. AA agents are not union, and every flight they work is scrutinized. If they do not close the door to the aircraft and the plane does not send the “all ready signal” to depart at the departure time they have to account for that delay (even if it is only 1 minute!). A bean counter in headquarters does not care why the agent delayed the flight only that it left the gate late, as we have to log all delays with the FAA. Each department deals with the delays coded to them differently. Flight Attendant and Pilot delays fall under the contracts our unions have negotiated with the company, Agents have no support. Should an agent have a record of delays coded to her, she stands to lose her job.nnIt sounds like her response to you was poor, and for that I am very sorry. I hope that you will not let this one situation cloud your vision of our entire workforce. For the most part we are a nice group of people.nnMelissa

    • Thank you for the explanation, Melissa. However, the flight was supposed to leave at 4:10 and I was standing at her gate at 3:57. It actually pushed off the gate 5 minutes early.

  • Christian

    Careful, committing random acts of kindness may start to change the world.

  • You were much nice to the airline agent than I would have been, but good on you for turning the tables on “fate” and making that cashiers day. He’ll have a great story and who knows, maybe he’ll share it one day from a stage and you’ll hear it knowing you made a difference.nnLoved your comeback by the way. 🙂

    • Thanks man. Trust me, I wanted to say a whole lot more to her.

  • Deelyte1205

    It made my day reading this! I try to practice this theory all the time, but today has been extremely frustrating and I needed the reminder!

    • So glad I was able to help your day. I hope it’s going well.

  • Rachaelsway00

    2 years ago I traveled with 3 kids(me in a wheelchair ) by myself. I made sure the plane staff was well thought of just to be sure that if my 3 yo had a fit I could get help. I started out with Lindt chocolates at the entrancw then I made sure my girls wrote thank you notes. The entire flight went well and the look on their faces when they read the notes was priceless. I am glad you changed your prospective on how this could turn out.

    • Chocolate! Next time, I’ll pull a protein bar from my bag and try to bride people with that. 🙂

  • On the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2005, three months after my marriage broke apart (and thus my first major holiday alone) I went out to shop for Christmas gifts for my two sons. I received a call from my apartment complex…my apartment was on fire. As I was rushing back to the apartment complex, my parents called to tell me my grandmother had just died. My apartment was an almost total loss. I had no insurance. nnThat was a memorable bad day.nnI like the way you turned it around and didn’t let that gate agent get to you. I’ve had some experiences like that and I always chalk it up to their having a bad day.

    • Man, that was a REAL bad day compared with my little annoyance.

  • Anonymous

    My most memorable worst day occured in May of 2006. We’d been practically living at Vanderbilt Medical Center on the trauma floor. My Dad had fallen down the stairs 5 days earlier and had been on life support since arriving at the hospital. It’s strange how quickly you become bonded with other people in crisis. There are 30 chairs bolted to the floor in the waiting room of the unit. Because of my handicap I spent all of my time either with my Dad or in that room. In just five short days I’d seen people live some of the absolute worst nightmares possible. I had also seen them show incredible kindess and compassion to each other–total strangers. nAnyway, to make a long story short, my Mom finally made the decision to take my Dad off life support at some point that day. We’d not decided just when. Despite my faith in God and the hope of heaven I was a nervous wreck. I’d never been in that situation before and didn’t know what to expect. nThat morning I decided that I needed to turn my focus to others. Many of the people on the unit would be there long after we were gone–if a miracle didn’t take place with my Dad. I prayed and God gave me opportunities to minister like never before. People who had been closed books suddenly opened up. And they had NO IDEA of what was coming for us. I prayed with some, offered food to others, swapped funny stories with a few, and even forced myself to choke down some “community pizza” before we gathered as a family with my Dad. After he passed away I went back to the waiting room and told those who I had been sitting with every night (all night) for almost a week that I would continue to pray for them and their loved ones. I also stayed around, at the request of one guy, for a report on his wife. It turned out to be the very first bit of good news he’d heard. It was awesome to celebrate with him. nSo it was the worst of days, because my Dad died, and yet it was a strangely blessed day and probably one of the most fruitful times in my ministry. I’ll never forget that topsy-turvy day as long as I live.

  • Mario, I can’t really even think about my bad day right now. I do know, though, that God had a plan for you this day…

  • Awesome post. as always, an inspiration.nnToday was kind of a bad day. I felt pretty disappointed and discouraged by something falling through due to lack of response. Not the worst day ever.nnWorst day ever was probably…when I thought I was really sick and had to get some tests done. That was about 7 years ago. It took a week for results to come back. I prayed with my pastor, as a brand new Christian, and put my life in God’s hands. Everything came out ok…but that was several worst days ever in a row.

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