On a recent flight to Miami, feeling parched, I walked back to the galley and asked the flight attendant, “May I have a bottle of water, please? I’m very thirsty.”

“No. We don’t give out bottles of water.”

True to my nature, I didn’t give up. “Well, we’ll be landing soon and I notice that you still have a number of full bottles. I’d like to have one of them. I’m very thirsty.”

“Well, I’m sorry but I can’t give it to you. Company policy. Would you like a cup of water?,” she asked, picking up what looked like a 6 ounce cup. I knew that would not suffice. I’m a big water drinker.

What a mindset, I thought. This airline is not customer-focused. We’ve been delayed for 5½ hours, without any real explanation and they can’t give me a bottle of water! Where is the commitment to customer care?

“Look, this has been a trying travel experience today,” I said. Would you be willing to use your discretionary power and let me have a bottle of water? Please?”

“No. I’ll give you two cups. Do you want that?”

“I want to feel like a valued customer and right now, and I don’t. All I want is a bottle of water, of which you have plenty. I’ve been given full bottles of water before, so I know it can be done.”

“Well, that was before. We don’t do that anymore. Things have changed. We’re living in a new world.” With that, she sat down. I was effectively dismissed.

I stood there thinking, “You know, she’s right, things have changed. We now pay for everything on airplanes. For my fare, I get a tiny seat with very little legroom. That’s it; a seat and safety instructions.

Things had changed and I wasn’t keeping up. That happens a lot. Things change, and I buck the current and resist the new. What do I get for resisting change? Most often, just a futile expenditure of energy and a heightened sense of frustration. But some times, if I work through that frustration, the result is a win-win.

In reality, I wanted water. Early into our exchange, I could have gone with the current and gotten my needs met. I could spitefully have stood by her station, consumed a bottle of water, cup by cup, and complied with “company policy.” Instead, I did what I often do, I bucked the current, resisting change, disturbing my peace. Which may sound bad, but not always.

This is a small example in the scheme of all that happens in my life, but I believe the story about all the ways I allow myself to be stuck in a story, rooted to what happened in the past or how it should be shows up in my life, day-to-day, moment-to-moment. This was another teachable moment in my life…one borne out of an ordinary, everyday experience.

I stood there looking at her for a long moment. Then, I gave it one last shot. “Wouldn’t it be good to make ONE customer happy today?” That did it. She thrust the bottle into my hand with, “Don’t let anyone see this.”

I smiled, said, “Thank you,” returned to my seat and quenched my thirst.

What are the teachable moments in your life? Moments, when you are your best example of what not to do? Moments when you are your greatest teacher? Moments when you are stuck in a story, rooted to what happened in the past, willing to be denied what you truly need because pursuing it might make you uncomfortable, stuck in how it should be?

Share your story with me and the LIES That Limit community.

Do you know someone who is “Stuck In A Story?”  Give them the gift of understanding and releasing their damaging tale.  Order them a copy of  “LIES That Limit: Uncover The Truth of Who You Really Are.”

  1. Excellent Post, Teressa. I struggle with this question, usually framed as “have I put myself in an invisible prison of my own making?” The decision of when it’s important to press on and when to defer is challenging. Thank you for reminding me.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *