Monday, May 12, 2014

Agony Airlines

As anyone growing up in Pittsburgh would know, the main airline servicing the city was Allegheny Airlines, which later became absorbed into US Airways. It was a nice enough little airline, but every time someone (ourselves included) would fly into Pittsburgh, there would always be a problem of some kind. A bag would be lost, or the flight delayed, or (and this was good for a few years) the terminal would be under construction.

Once, Jeffrey's Uncle Sydney arrived at their house for a family event after a particularly long trip. The plane red lighted and they had to be assigned another aircraft, and the reshuffling of passengers and luggage proved particularly arduous. When we asked him what was wrong with the plane, he said "I guess the rubber band broke! Allegheny Airlines, hah! They should call it Agony Airlines!"

This became Jeffrey's favorite joke about flying, and anytime he could work it into a trip's narrative he would. What I found interesting was that he credited his uncle every time. Think about how often you have heard and retold a joke, and ask yourself how many times you would explain where you heard it and from whom.

I'm sure Jeffrey was just being considerate; in his mind it was something like "...this is a funny story - whoever I'm telling it to should know where I got it from!" He was so anxious about doing the right thing and so afraid of taking credit for anything he thought he didn't deserve. I've hinted that Jeffrey's life was not so happy. There were a lot of reasons for this, but if I could do anything over again, it would be to let him know it was okay to get credit for the joke now and then.

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