I first met Sue in Atlanta when I worked with her husband, Richard, while I was doing some speeches for Alabama Power there. Sue had grown up in a small Georgia town where she went to school barefoot and that schoolhouse had a dirt floor. She was a real Southern Woman, a successful one too.
I just want to share with you one of the stories about a really cool thing that Sue did that really impressed me. I will tell you a better one later if you like this one. It seems that one late afternoon Sue was on one of those planes that land at Atlanta and just sits there out on the strip waiting for a place to dock. Here was a full plane and the passengers were breathing easy after a smooth landing and anxious to deplane. Instead they had to just sit there, five minutes, ten minutes. It already seemed like an hour but when an hour had passed the passengers had not already used up all of their patience but they had run out of techniques they had learned in their anger control classes. The flight attendants had done everything they knew to pacify the angry passengers and it seemed like a near riot was fast approaching.
An hour and ten, an hour and twenty, I heard it was about at an hour and a half that Sue just popped up from her seat and standing in the aisle, she called out bravely, “I think it is time for a song. How many of you will join me in singing Amazing Grace? And they began to sing. First just a few but it sort of caught on and pretty soon a whole mess of people were singing, one chorus, two, three, they did a full four choruses of Amazing Grace with the key change and, fortunately, shortly after that she sat down and the plane pulled up to an open dock and the passengers were all allowed to deplane.
Now maybe this is something that could only happen in the Bible Belt but amazingly, one woman changed the attitude of a couple of hundred passengers and a whole lot of that tension was relieved just like that.
OK, sure she broke the rule about keeping seated but they had already violated that rule when some passengers started turning blue because they had to use the bathroom so badly.
I imagine she violated a number of passengers civil rights too if they didn’t subscribe to a belief that allowed the singing of Amazing Grace. If they turned in a complaint about this they no doubt turned in a complaint about a noise violation too because Sue can really belt it out when she gets inspired.
Sue is just that kind of person who, when she sees a problem tries to do something to make things better. Now I am sure that there were other negative forces at work on that plane. Perhaps some tort specialist was already busy passing business cards down the aisle trying to stir up a class action lawsuit. I suppose there was some talk of a revolt combined with an attack on the door so escape might be possible.
But Sue, being a sweet, kindly Christian woman just thought of what might take her mind off the troubling situation and she did her thing.
I wonder how man situations you have been in personally where a person like Sue with a little gumption and a creative mind might have saved situation or improved a bad condition?
I’ll get back to Sue in a later article because in the next story Sue changed the environment for several thousand people one night and I will never forget it. It is not that unusual though because, as I told you. Sue is a real Southern woman.