Insisting On The Grievance

Not so long ago, I was traveling in Asia under the auspices of a certain organization. In one city I met two colleagues whose next destination turned out to be the same as my own. We shared a car to the airport, checked in with the airline and out with passport control, then walked together to our plane. A certain sheepishness became apparent at that point, culminating in their going up the first-class gangway while I went to my own place. Ten minutes passed, during which time I confess to some mental and probably sinful exultation (I knew my friends).

Sure enough, just before takeoff, an airline official came into the economy section, identified me, and passed a message from my senior colleague that said, in effect: “Friend, come up higher, and I will pay the difference when we arrive.” With old-fashioned courtesy I said to the messenger: “Please express my thanks to Mr. X, and tell him I’d rather have the grievance.” He did so with seemly gravity, I discovered later. I naturally saw no reason to add that I had three seats to myself and would journey more comfortably than they.

Now, however, the tables have been turned on me, and I am writing under the weight of what can only be described as The Grievance Unsought. It came, fittingly, in an airport lounge where I was awaiting a tardy flight. Pushing his way through the crowd was a friend who has developed to a high degree the art of communicating anxiety. This time he excelled himself. Spotting me, he said loudly in passing, without breaking step: “Hi, Eut, I pray for you every Tuesday.” (He didn’t call me that, of course, but oddly used my full name—a piece of gamesmanship that always somehow ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: