Thursday, September 16, 2010
Minutes before boarding the plane in Texas, my name was announced over the overhead speakers. "That's strange", I thought. I made my way to the boarding gate and they smiled and asked to exchange my boarding pass for a new one - a first class ticket. What?!? I immediately thought of officer training and being warned to NEVER fly first class in uniform. It just looks bad to have military members acting pretentious on the government's dime. I politely refused and told them I was in uniform. They insisted and said it was perfectly okay, it was Sept. 11, and they thanked me for my service. In my head I thought, "What service?? I haven't done anything yet!" When they called us to board they asked that all military personnel board first. I boarded the plane with 5 other service members including a full bird colonel who gave me a surprised look when I stopped at my first class seat. After he walked to the back of the plane I suggested to the stewardess that maybe the colonel should have my seat. She told me to sit down and relax. "You were probably nicer at the gate than he was", she hypothesized. I felt ridiculously guilty when I stretched my legs out, reclined my seat and washed my face with a heated towel. I continued to feel guilty when I declined wine with my gourmet lunch and guiltier still when they brought out freshly baked cookies. It was the best flight I have had in my life. Maybe I earned it since I was away from my family for 28 days. However, all of my class mates are gone for the same amount of time and they have to pay for everything themselves. So really I didn't earn anything. Maybe someday when I'm deployed and away from my family I will think back to that flight and say - now I've earned it!!