A Really, Really, Really Bad Day

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Aug 08, 2015

“Life is made up of sobs, sniffles and smiles, with sniffles predominating.”
O. Henry

Have you ever had a really, really, really bad day? Today I will tell you about a family of four and one person who separately but uniquely each had a really, really, really bad day.

First I will tell you about the family of four. Evie and I had just boarded Frontier Flight #F9107 for our trip from Philadelphia to Minneapolis and found our seats in row 21. She was on one side of the aisle and I was on the other. The two seats to her left and the two seats to my right were both empty.

Just then a young father, perhaps in his mid-30s, with a daughter who was probably in her early teens, let me know their seats were next to me. Just behind them was a woman and a little boy with a Golden State shirt who was probably around ‚Äč9 or 10 years old who both sat next to Evie. We later learned this was a family of four. The mother sat in the middle next to Evie and the father sat next to me. Both children sat by each window. 

What happened next made that day a really, really, really bad day for that family. Evidently, the teenage daughter had some kind of phobia for flying. For 20 minutes she screamed and protested and cried in ways that I have never seen. And while her father tried and tried to comfort her, she got worse and worse refusing even to put on a seat belt.

The mother told Evie that her daughter would settle down once we were in the air. But no matter how the father tried to reassure the daughter by talking to her and holding her and encouraging her, nothing helped. The flight attendant even offered candy and snacks but all to no avail.

Finally, after trying and trying, the father informed the flight attendant they would have to get off the plane. He told his daughter they would drive to Minnesota. He got his car keys and parking ticket from his wife and, after the plane returned to the hanger, he walked off with her.

That was a really, really, really bad day. I cannot imagine the challenges which that dear family faces. They were planning a nice visit to Minnesota but that experience exploded Plan A for a most difficult Plan B. Evie and I said later how we admire parents who love like that on a really, really, really bad day. That day was July 2, 2015.

For Ronald Wayne, his really, really, really bad day was April 13, 1976. That was the day he sold his 10-percent stake in Apple for $800. Today it would be worth over $70 billion. He has been called “the unluckiest man in the world.”

His perspective, however, is remarkable. Even though he lived a modest life, and upon retirement had to downsize even more, and his friends felt he should go screaming up the walls, he said, “The reason I didn’t is very simple. Should I make myself sick over the whole thing, in addition to everything else that’s going on? It didn’t make any sense. Just pick yourself up and move on. I didn’t want to waste my tomorrows bemoaning yesterdays. Does that mean I’m unemotional and don’t feel pain? Of course not. But I handle it by going on to the next thing. That’s all any of us can do.”  

Perhaps you have had a really, really, really bad day. Evie and I certainly have. And we will probably have more in the future. But as we encounter those who are facing a terrible day, we often look into each other’s eyes and with deep gratitude we say, “Someday. Perhaps someday that will be us, but not today. Not today.” 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of  
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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