My old housemate Dana was a flight attendant on those little puddle-jumper airplanes. Her typical day would be something like: San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles International. Los Angeles International to Bakersfield. Bakersfield to San Diego. Little hops with cranky people who were anxious about making their connection in time.

We often talked about how people lose their minds on airplanes. Whether they are afraid of flying, nervous about who they are meeting, sad about leaving, or whatever the stressor may be, people behave in ways on airplanes that they would never do in ordinary life.

 Dana was the recipient of their anger and stress. She was only 21 at the time, a beautiful girl with a radiant smile – she was often mistaken for Keri Russell in “Felicity.” But she didn’t let it get to her. The only time I ever saw her cry about work was because of management, not because of her customers.

 In fact, her company received letters almost weekly telling them what a good job she was doing. One said “Dana is the most wonderful flight attendant I have ever met.”

I asked her how she did it, how she kept her cool in the face of people abusing her all day long.

“I look back and I imagine them all as cranky 2-year-olds,” she said. “I just see them as tired and upset and needing something to make them happy.”

I love that. Now when I see people acting like idiots, I try to remember that they are just acting like their inner toddler. They are lost and out of control in a big, bewildering world where they can’t get what they want and they are acting out.

Hey, it’s worth a try, right?