I’m going to let you in on a little secret today.
This is something I’ve only told one other person. I’ve kept it a secret because once it’s out, it will be harder for me to do it without other people knowing what I’m up to. And I want you to promise me you won’t tell my kids about this.
What’s the secret?
Well it’s about Southwest airlines.
If you’ve ever flown on Southwest, you know that they don’t assign seats. They put you in one of three boarding groups (A, B or C) and then assign you a boarding number. Then you line up when your group is called. So if you’re B22, you stand by a pole that says “20-25.” Once you get on the plane, you can sit anywhere you want except for the pilot’s lap. Frowned upon.
The problem is, when you stand in line, you have no sense if everyone in front of you is cutting you. Maybe you’re B22 and B24 rams right in front of you. And he’s tied 19 bags together with a woven leather belt and is pretending that’s “1 carry on.” You can’t just say, “Hey, can I see your ticket to verify that you’re not trying to get front cutsies on me? I’m fine with back cutsies, but I just don’t cotton to front.” That would look weird. For years that problem has perplexed me until I discovered the perfect solution.
When they call your group, pull out your ticket, walk to the section you’re supposed to be standing in and say to the people around you, “I’m not cutting you am I? I’m B22.” Automatically, everyone is going to reveal their own ticket and you’ll quite literally know where you stand. Instead of looking petty like you’re the guy that thinks getting on the plane in front of two people is going to matter, you look like the considerate guy who doesn’t want to cut other people in line.
That’s what we call a win-win.
Is that shallow? Yes. Is that a trick I want you to tell my kids about? No. Why? Because as a dad, I regularly bust out the “first shall be last and the last shall be first,” verse on them.
Sometimes they get really competitive with each other. On some nights it feels like they fight over air, they argue about who gets which pocket of oxygen. And when they get the “me first virus,” I’m fast on the draw with a “Whoa, whoa, whoa, the first shall be last. I’m pretty sure that applies to Wii Mario Kart.”
Or sometimes when we say, “Wash your hands before dinner,” they hear, “The house is almost out of water, there’s only enough left for one person. Please NASCAR race each other to the hall bathroom. Feel free to shove each other on the way there.” And as their little feet hit the wooden floors like small bathroom-bound flamenco dancers, I’ll call out, “The first shall be last.”
That verse definitely applies to them, but not me. I’ve read it a number of times and I’m pretty sure the original Hebrew references sharing on the Wii, but not Southwest. So if you ever meet my kids, please don’t tell them I’ve come up with elaborate/tricky ways to make sure I’m first on planes.
Did your parents ever say, “The first shall be last” to you? Have you as a parent ever said it?