First-class tantrum

I have often written in these columns about mindfulness. Mindfulness is nonjudgmental moment to moment awareness of the present moment. Learning mindfulness brings with it several positive life changes. For instance, mindfulness reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and can bring to your attention negative emotions that you would like to overcome.

Mindfulness shows you when you make a mistake and allows you to correct it without guilt or anger. These benefits give practicing mindfulness the power to change your life.

People I see around Lakeport and patients that come to my office often complement me about these columns because I give real life examples. The student is the teacher and the teacher becomes the student. I am continuously looking for real life experiences that can help people understand the concepts addressed in these articles.

Mindfulness teaches me whenever I am triggered in a negative way how to cope effectively. Practicing mindfulness teaches you when anger is unacceptable. Mindfulness teaches what we all learned in kindergarten which is when you’re wrong you promptly admit it and then you make amends. The following story can illustrate this for you.

I recently traveled to Florida for a conference. At the airport I was offered an upgrade to first class. It wasn’t too expensive and I have never traveled first class. I thought to myself, I’m entitled to travel first class once in my life. My position on the plane was in the second row in the aisle. It started out wonderful. Leg room, leather seats, and impeccable service by the crew.

When lunchtime came the flight attendant asked for my order, salmon was my choice. She then asked what I would have as a second choice? I thought that was odd because I was in the second row, so surely I would be one of the first to get the salmon. I complied and said okay I’ll take the chicken as a second choice. When she arrived with lunch, I was shocked to see the chicken.

“I ordered the salmon”, I told her. She said, “Other passengers who fly with United on a regular basis ordered all of the salmon and are given the priority.”  I asked her, “You’re not going to walk by me with salmon for people in the back when I’m sitting in the second row are you?” She said, “Yes, sorry.”

My blood began to boil. The flight attendant could see the anger on my face. After all, this was my first time flying first class, and I felt entitled. Some people get road rage, and I got first-class lunch rage. I gave the poor flight attendant all of my guilt and anger, for which she was unappreciative. Her face was white and her eyes cold.

After my outburst, mindfulness set in. The negative emotions I was feeling became intolerable. What a spoiled brat. I acted like a toddler in a tantrum. As mindfulness came over me, I became grateful for the chicken. I gathered myself and had lunch, eating it very slowly, savoring all the flavors moment by moment. I practiced gratitude for every bite of food I was given.

Then I apologized to the flight attendant. I asked her to forgive me for acting like a jerk. I was wrong in behaving that way, and I was truly sorry if she got upset. I could see the change immediately come across her face and complexion. Her facial expressions and color improved her eyes warm. I could sense she was grateful for my apology. She accepted it and understood.

After that she attended to me as if I was the only person in first-class. Warm cookies, espresso coffee, movies, anything I wanted. By the end of the flight, we were buddies. What a turnaround in the experience. All because of the gifts of being mindful. Mindfulness can change your life. This story illustrates why and how. I trust you will now look for the moment when you can promptly admit you’re wrong and then make amends.

Matthew McQuaid, DPM is a board certified foot surgeon practicing in Lakeport. He has a particular interest in Mind/Body medicine and its impact on healing. He is an award winning author and teacher. Please share this article with a friend. For more information please call 707-263-3727 and visit

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