I graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2007, and upon receipt of my diplomas, I was pretty secure in my progressive, liberal values as well as my Catholic faith. There were many events and trials that of course prompted some soul-searching in college, which is to be expected. Nothing really challenged my faith so much in college so much as the post-graduate world.
After graduation, I found employment with one of the U.S.’ major network carriers and have worked there for the past two years. Two years of living in this so-called ‘real world’ I had heard so much about, I learned a lot: paying rent and other bills, living with a roommate, the regular 9 to 5 thing, and contending with people both from a personal and customer service standpoint.
People are selfish. And people are greedy and dishonest. People can be mean-spirited, shortsighted, and two-faced. My idealistic world shattered in slow motion.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t live in a vacuum of naïveté before the working world. I had my fair share of reality doses prior, however it occurred on a more daily basis outside of a more homogeneous, educational environment. Gradually, this began to chip away at my faith.
The recent economic crisis has made it apparent to Americans that the world is not such a cheerful place, and it seemed to me like people were showing their true colors more, and they weren’t always bright ones. Seeing how people were treated, and how people treat others made it increasingly difficult to see Christ in others.
My dismal worldview made me question my faith. I had always gone to mass every Sunday, prayed usually, and was always involved in my faith community. I began to wonder, what the hell is the point? And on the inside, I felt like my faith didn’t mean anything to me anymore. It was dead.
I can’t recall when this ironic epiphany happened, because I continued to go through the motions for however many months. It wasn’t until my trip to Europe during these past couple weeks that I reexamined my faith.
My mom had never been to Europe and I wanted to take her during my two-week vacation. One of the benefits of working for an airline is that you get to fly although it’s standby. I made an itinerary, booked the hotels, purchased the EU Rail Pass, and set up a host of activities spanning from Vienna to Amsterdam.
We departed on a holiday weekend and flights from Phoenix to our east coast hub were full, so I looked towards other alternatives. I figured we could make it to the hub of one of our partner airlines, and attempt to fly on them to get to Munich. After a bit of a runaround from both gate and ticket counter agents, three oversold flights, and being stuck in a midwestern airport all day, it became apparent we would not be making it to Germany at all that day.
While it goes with the territory, we nevertheless were haggard and a bit dejected. After a couple calls to Reservations, and with assistance from airport staff from my carrier, we managed to get on a flight to our transatlantic gateway on the east coast, and at least had plans to get out the next day to Frankfurt on my airline.
We thought an overnight stay would be the last of our worries, however mom’s bag was lost and out international reservation obviously needed to be amended (which can be touchy). We received help from a kind agent in the baggage service office of yet another airport and she advised the bag would likely be found within 24 hours.
We were burnt out and considered the possibility of not going to Europe at all. Mom wasn’t prepared to go two weeks without clothes, and we had to consider the possibility of returning to Phoenix. We slept on it.
The next day, I headed to the airport to check on mom’s bag. Miraculously, it was there, just as the agent had stated, which demonstrated that the system does work. Okay, one down, and one to go; I headed to the ticket counter to change the reservation. A ticket counter agent was very helpful but mentioned it was difficult to fix because it was international and travel had already commenced. She contacted System Support and it was fixed in ten minutes. That was it. We would be on our way to Frankfurt.
As I walked out the airport to hail a cab, I received a cell phone call from John, a friend and former coworker who had transferred to System Support.
He said, “Hey Rick, I was in your record. The ticket counter called me. When I looked at the reservation, I thought, ‘Hey, I know that guy!’ Anyway, I talked to my boss and we fixed it.”
I was a bit astounded, “No way. John, I did say a little prayer, and you answered it.”
After a dozen encounters with agents from the airport, Reservations, and System Support, mom and I were set. Some of them were friends, and others were strangers. And it was then I began to relearn that God did create us to live in community. We do need each other. And in my hour of need, people heeded the call.
A prayer had been answered. And as experience had taught me to distrust people, this new experience, forced me to reevaluate my dismal outlook towards people. True, my faith was dead. Fortunately, that’s why we believe in the Resurrection.
Mit herzlichen Grüßen,