Going FIRST CLASS

CanadianI’d noticed the security guard and airline desk clerk at the Singapore Canadian Airlines check in counter observing me for some time and wondered what was going on. From my vantage point behind a long line of sweating and irritable passengers carts piled high with electronic equipment bound for Bangladesh I’d time to study my surroundings. The security guard beckoned me to the first class counter and I headed there out of curiosity. My curiosity turned to incredulous joy as I realized they were offering to upgrade me to first class, and at no extra cost. I needed no second invitation!

This was definitely a first time first class experience and I was determined to enjoy it to the full. I piled magazines around me, gave the stewardess as many orders as legitimate first class passengers, and spread myself comfortably into the wide spaces provided. It was very satisfying to be one of the first out of the plane in Dhaka, and see my luggage sail majestically onto the carrousel with a “priority” tag.

Reflecting on this experience later, I came to some surprising conclusions. I’d not touched down on the tarmac earlier than those in economy class, the food didn’t fill me any more than it had on economy flights, and I was able to read only one magazine at a time. First class had not provided me with any lasting privileges, and it cost fellow travellers in first class a whole lot more than an economy fare. Was it the ego trip they paid for, and did they get any lasting satisfaction out of that trip?

There were some other realities I’d not thought about before. From time to time I‘d envied people passing my humble old clunker in Singapore with their expensive car imports, but I was really at no disadvantage. We reached our destinations together, and I’d less worries about my car being stolen. Occasionally I also envied those with wealth, but my children received a good education and I’d sufficient modest comfort to be satisfied with my life. These affluent others really had few advantages over me, just money.

In a way the affluent are to be pitied. They’re anxious about the safety of their property, have to worry about kidnappers and terrorists, and their surplus of material things is an extra burden they have to deal with. They’re sorely exercised by the things they have as these need protection and constant management. While their lifestyle looks enviable I can do without their worries. How would they adjust to new realities if a calamity rocked their financial foundations and they suddenly had to make living style adjustments?

So, when you’re tempted to envy, as I sometimes am, think of the problems our affluent friends have to contend with and be thankful for what you have.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2014 All rights reserved”

Image above courtesy of s681 photobucket.com

58 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a good message about being grateful for what you have and not envying others. As we sometimes think having a ton of money would improve our lives immeasurably, I guess it is true that even the super wealthy have their problems too. Great post!

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    1. You’ve had a lot of stuff flung at you in life and yet you are so positive. I like your style!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is my first time to visit your blog. You are “right on bro” as they say here in street lingo in Texas. I’m guilty of envy only to the point of wishing I could give to those in need. I just hope that I will never be in need but one never knows.

    This post is quite insightful and I find that to be a “good thing.”

    ~Yvonne

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    1. Thanks for visiting my page Yvonne. I’ve visited Texas a few times and you are right, there is a distinctive culture there within the US culture. I’m not against rich people because they are rich. There are some great people among them who do much good with their money, but generally they are a selfish lot. lol. I guess that selfish spirit lurks within many of the rest of us too at times. I have enough to pay my bills and a bit more for which I’m thankful, but as I stated in the blog I gain huge pleasure from life, surrounds and community and don’t need more than that.

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  3. Two words: leg room. That’s about the only thing I envy. As for the rest, right on. I neither envy nor feel sorry for the wealthy, who are waited on hand and foot and buy anything that money can buy. Once you get past basic survival, and that’s critical, happiness is not tied to wealth. I have a thousand experiences that I will happily match against anything that money can buy. Great blog. –Curt

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    1. Oh I love that spirit Curt. “Happiness is not tied to wealth!” Love it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Debbie M. says:

    One more concern for affluent parents: raising spoiled children. I think it was Warren Buffet who said something to the effect that if you give your kids too much, they won’t have to do anything. (Apologies for most likely butchering the quote: I couldn’t find it with a simple Google search.) I do envy those with money for they have more options to be generous givers. (Those of us with less money have to be more creative! :))

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    1. Yes Debbie, Google search has let me down many times too. lol. I was taken up with your comment on riches and spoiled children. It raises my blood pressure when I see news reports on the antics of some of those spoiled children you refer to. They don’t seem to lose their self-centeredness when adults do they? Silly of me to feel that way I know. It has been heartening for me to see so many of the blogging fraternity who are community minded rather than self-centered.

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  5. Thank you for this reminder to be grateful for what we have. I try not to envy anyone else, with money or not, but I can say I would be very happy to be offered a first class upgrade for free, I thought those things only happened in the movies!

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    1. No, it’s happened to me twice. The second time was when I was visiting my parents in Australia from Singapore. My wife had her arm in a sling from an elbow operation in Singapore. I fell off a ladder doing repair work in my parents home and ended up with my arm in a sling. My father woke up one morning with an arm condition that required his arm to be fitted with a sling too. When he took us to the bus stop the people there collapsed with laughter and wanted to know what happened to the other guys in the fight. lol. When we were flying out of the country to Los Angeles they took pity on us and bumped us up from economy to first class. So there you have it. If you want to be upgraded for free just turn up to the check in counter with an arm sling, and it helps if your family has them on too! It worked well for me on a trip from Hong Kong to Singapore. No first class but there were no seats available so I flashed a medical arm band I’d forgotten to take off when released from a HK hospital and miracle of miracles, no seats changed to one seat for me. I wore that arm band around the world for quite a while after that just in case there was a repeat situation.

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  6. All money buys sometimes is choices. For an indecisive and insecure person, this would be a curse!! 🙂 but envying the rich is futile, cos I have learnt a long time ago that the time you spend envying someone, could be easily put to making your own life a lot more enjoyable. Great post Ian! I am a firm believer that you live within your means and you should be grateful for what you have rather than wishing for what others have. If you can afford a little luxury, enjoy it without guilty but don’t let it define you.

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    1. Oh I like your attitude. Very balanced. Thanks for visiting my page and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The next to the last paragraph sounds downright biblical. Good post

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    1. Biblical? You mean I could make it the 67th book? You just made my day. lol

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  8. stacilys says:

    Hi Ian. This is a wonderful post. I remember once, way back in my 20s, I was working in an office. It was just a simple administrative position, but it was a blessing. I remember one day having to take something outside. Once I got outside, there was this man in a nice suit, talking on his cell phone, and looking at me as if I was some sort of peon. I didn’t care though. I thought it was ridiculous, this attitude of his. Very ostentatious indeed.
    I really agree with you.
    🙂

    Like

    1. Hi there and welcome to the page. One of the most difficult things for an administrator is to stay connected to the grass roots of both the corporation, or for that matter society itself. A few manage to do that by frequently walking around and talking to staff and being part of professional and community groups. Administrators who fail to do that are generally out of touch with reality.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. stacilys says:

        Thank you for sharing that with me Ian.
        🙂

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    2. Staci, I ROLL these eyes at that man. Pfff. Proud of you for shrugging it off. You go, girl. We know where our worth is. =)

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      1. stacilys says:

        I know, right. I just think it’s so ridiculous. I think it’s futile to put so much worth in money and status. He probably thought I was just a working class peon, but I knew my worth in light of eternity, and he knew his ‘worth’ in light of material and social status.
        🙂

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      2. He is to be pitied, actually. One day HE will find himself falling short by Someone else’s measure.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. stacilys says:

        Haha. What goes around, comes around, right.
        🙂

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  9. neverending1 says:

    I think people want to be in First Class because it makes them feel special, plus they don’t want to be near us “not-so-rich” folks.

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    1. Too bad for them, because we “not-so-rich” folk are necessary for their survival. We are the ones who buy their products and services and without us they would not be rich. lol.

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  10. amommasview says:

    Your post has a great deep message!

    Like

    1. Thanks for visiting my page. It was nice of you to visit and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on A Holistic Journey and commented:
    Ian is among those who’ve bolted their seat to this blog. He has read just about all the 200+ posts I’ve written. I’m including this piece in my series on money. Comments closed, feel free to talk to him.

    Like

    1. Well now, you’ve given me a moment of fame I never expected. lol. Thank you, I’m humbled.

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      1. TaDAAA! Your eyes bugged out at the likes, I imagine? =) Have fun getting to know your likers, =)

        Xx
        HW

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    2. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for blogging each day so may find it difficult to get to know so many. Yep! I couldn’t believe the traffic you generated. lol

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      1. Oh, that was nothing. The likes and comments tsunami threaten to wash my guest writers’ purse and socks away. Many get more views than the Freshly Pressed folks. *Grin* Lotsa fun. And yes, I am. Wiped. Out. Lights out.

        Have a great week o’er there!

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      2. Tsunami is a good word. My little sedate world is suddenly awash. lol. By the time you get this you will be wiped in for the day and lights on.

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  12. This is well said! Having enough for security and opportunities is one thing. I can definitely understand people envying that. But after a while there doesn’t seem much point to all the extras.

    Peter Singer used this philosophy in his book The Life You Can Save, arguing for a progressive donation system based on income. So you “should” have to give nothing until you’ve attained a certain level of income. Then for each dollar over that level, give 2%. Then for each dollar above the next level give 5% – and so on (like the Australian tax system, but for charitable giving). Because really, for each dollar of income over (say) 200k, what are you getting for it anyway?

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    1. I guess I went through the selfish teen years where my total focus was on making big money and having lots of things to a sudden realization those were very empty goals in my early twenties. I’m retired now, not rich but certainly have enough to make me happy and a little bit more to share with those less fortunate.

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      1. It’s understandable though, when you’re just starting out your focus is on getting stuff of your own. Then as you find your needs filled, you start taking a step back and refocusing.

        Like

      2. I was quite successful in the business world even in my teenage years but unfortunately a bit of a delinquent in those teen years. lol

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  13. Madhu says:

    Hubby has been bumped up to first class several times, but I have never been upgraded! I have no doubt I will appreciate the comfort on long haul flights, but the fact that I can travel to two more destinations for the price stops me from indulging 🙂

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    1. That’s true! I worked for charities most of my working life so couldn’t bring myself to travel upper classes as it was someone else’s donations which needed to go for the intended purpose. Some of my journey’s around India were not pleasant but there was a sense of fulfilment in my work and the joy of sharing with my Indian associates. I’m most impressed with Gandhi’s philosophy.

      Like

  14. Mags Corner says:

    I have flown first class once on a large jet, but have only flown on a couple of small planes since for short trips. I cannot compare the food or treatment because I only ate on the first class trip and nothing happened on the short trips to compare to the other. I can honestly say that I have never wanted more than what it takes to live comfortably and have what I need to do so. The life of the rich has never appealed to me. Family, friends, peace of mind and happiness mean more to me than having a lot of money, a fine car, home and such. I enjoyed reading this sweet Ian. Hugs

    Like

    1. Yes that’s my philosophy too. Travelling economy air which was my choice to save money for the organization is very cramped on a long journey but if you get up and move around during the journey it’s bearable. Of course it would be extremely uncomfortable now I’m old so I don’t travel any more.

      Like

  15. borika45 says:

    I really enjoyed that piece Ian, but must confess to just once being upgraded! Aaaah what a treat..but your points were salient…going home this a.m. So back yo no phone or Internet….reminds me of that song ..soon and very soon…..!have a great week.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

    1. Well we hope that soon and very soon you are back on line and heading toward some normality in your life again.

      Like

  16. You ORDERED the stewardess around??? YOU? =)
    Well, though I have the highest expectations of your sterling character, you get a pass from me this time: you’re human. Great reflections, Ian. You actually touched on the next series (slowwwwly) comin’ around the corner on A Holistic Journey. =)

    Like

    1. Sounds like another interesting series. Must check that one out.

      Like

  17. I get upgraded very often. For me the comfort is important, that is really all I care about. Your philosophy is just right though, happiness isn’t where we sit or what we have.

    Like

  18. Jane Thorne says:

    Ian, what a provocative piece and you are so right. Material things do not bring joy; inner happiness comes from love for ourselves, for others, for life. Love matters, not matter. ❤

    Like

    1. Absolutely Jane. You can’t buy happiness.

      Like

  19. cardamone5 says:

    “Yesssss,” I hiss as if i am the snake from the Jungle Book. This is interesting to me because of my own struggles with believing wealthy people were better than me and witnessing my father’s lifelong pursuit of wealth (at age 70, he is the closest he has ever come to it, and yet, he is as tenacious to possess it as he was when we struggled.) My point is that wealth, for most people, includes the acquisition of tangible objects that bespeak their status, and is as much a feeling as it is a fact. You can print out a spreadsheet validating how much money you have, but if you don’t feel wealthy inside, it doesn’t matter. The opposite is true is well. So, I’m with you: drive clunkers, fly economy and live within your means, focusing on being happy with what you have, instead of what you don’t.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

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    1. I’ve found that apart from the Bill Gates and a limited few like he and his wife who share their wealth the rich are more interested in hoarding their wealth rather than sharing with the less fortunate of the world. Much of the tremendous generosity that fuels aid agencies around the world comes from middle and poorer classes of people. Governments give, but they give for political reasons rather than genuine regard for those less fortunate. Of course they would hotly dispute that, but its a fact.

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  20. jstansfeld says:

    Your philosophy is correct Ian, happiness is not bought or measured by what we possess. My mother always said that ‘you can never be too rich, too thin or too young’ a statement which even she knew, holds many elements of truth for a member of an affluent society while completely missing the essence of what gives true happiness. However, I must say that on a long trans-Atlantic flight, in itself a symbol of affluence, those seats with the extra room are wonderful. The spectrum between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ is so vast that even the poorest of the poor in the USA is probably better off than those considered mildly affluent in third world countries. Do I sound confused? If so believe that I am and that I enjoyed this provocative piece. Jane

    Like

    1. Well of course I appreciated the wide seats and extra services, specially on a much longer flight to the US when I received another upgrade to first class free. The hundreds of flights I’ve made in my lifetime were not as comfortable, but I survived and it was a privilege to be able to travel and see the world in any class. lol. You are so right, affluence is a slippery term. I’ve watched people come out of their mud huts in the developing world expressing a joy in life I was not experiencing at that time. It made me do an inventory of my own philosophy of life. Those people were happy with what they had, and it was very little indeed. I was not happy in my circumstance at that time. Those experiences helped me to be more appreciative of what I had dealt to me in life and to realize the value of family and friends, the true source of happiness.

      Like

  21. Eddie & Esther Norton says:

    Like you, we too had been bumped up. Twice to first class ad once to business. It was a surprised and we enjoyed. The Lord has been good. He has supplied us with our needs and sometimes with our wants. Esther

    Like

    1. Yes we have managed an upgrade to first class twice too, both times when located in Singapore. I have to confess the extra space is nice on a long journey. Our other free upgrade to first was to the US.

      Like

  22. Yoshiko says:

    I do agree, Ian, that we need to be thankful for what we have.

    Like

    1. Yes Yoshiko. Happiness does not consist of how many things we have, but rather how many friends we have.

      Like

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