We've all heard the story a million times...
The pile of papers in Candy’s inbox was several inches high.
She groaned heavily.
“Honestly, I can’t believe the amount of junk I have to take care of in this place.”
“Sorry, hon,” Debby clucked. “No one has it easy around here.”
“I know that. Just thought working in an airport might involve something more exciting than a whole lot of forms, you know?”
Debbie agreed rather vaguely and glided away to take care of some lost luggage.
Candy scowled, swept her flyaway hair out of her eyes, and reached for the form at the very top of the formidable pile.
She glanced up and spotted a tall, sloppily-dressed man, his suitcase jolting along the floor as he hurried toward her desk.
“Hey, is Flight 791 still here? I got stuck in the most terrible traffic on the way here. My sister will kill me if I miss the plane. Please, is it still here?”
He took deep gulps of air as Candy turned to check the flight schedule.
“791… Um, the plane left over an hour ago. Are you sure you’re thinking of the right flight?”
The man hung his head.
“I’m positive. Man, I can’t believe I missed it. My sister is gonna murder me.”
Candy shrugged her shoulders.
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s not your fault,” he said. “Thanks, anyway.”
She watched him walk away slowly and sit down in a nearby seat, his face dejected. Then she turned her attention back to the pile of papers clamoring for her attention. When she looked up again, the man had gone.
By the time Candy was on her lunch break, she had gotten through half the papers in her inbox and was feeling quite accomplished. She opened her brown lunch bag, sniffed, and wrinkled her nose.
“Leftovers again,” she muttered.
As she was finishing her meal, she happened to glance up at the large television screen overlooking the massive lobby. Margot Diaz was on, her perfectly plucked eyebrows unusually low over her eyes.
“The rescue mission is on, with dozens of family members anxiously awaiting what they hope will be good news about the current location of their loved ones. Now, on to Tom Cooperman with the traffic report.”
Just then, Debbie whisked by with a bawling toddler in tow.
“Debbie, what’s going on?”
The older woman scowled. “The kid’s lost. Honestly, he screams so loud I wonder his parents aren’t here to pick him up already.”
“No, I meant on the news,” Candy said. “The anchorwoman said something about a rescue mission. Is it another terrorist attack?”
“Nah, it was one of our flights. Went down in the middle of the Pacific.” Debbie shook her head wonderingly. “Honestly, Candy, what planet are you living on? The entire place has been talking about it for the last few hours!”
“I told you I had a lot of work to do.”
“Whatever.” Debbie shrugged and yanked the now-howling child after her.
“Hold on, what flight was it?” Candy called after her.
“791,” Debbie hollered back. “Left at 6:30 A.M.”
Candy watched Debbie go and then returned to her leftovers, an uncomfortable shiver playing along her spine.
“Flight 791,” she murmured to herself. “Terrible traffic. Oh, that lucky, lucky man.”
She whispered a short prayer, threw out her brown lunch bag, and returned to work.
This story is a striking example of how everything that Hashem does is for our good. From this story, we learn that we need to strengthen our trust in Hashem’s master plan, in which everything is for our ultimate benefit, no matter how terrible it may seem in the short term.
Oh, sorry, was that out loud?
Sorry about that. It’s just that it’s hard to conceal my skepticism about this whole story. First of all, I’ve heard about a thousand different versions of it. Second of all, it’s about as applicable as a DIY Purim costume.
Sure, it’s a beautiful story, and you’ll hear different types of this same beautiful story everywhere you go. There’s the one where, because a guy missed his train to work, he was saved from the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. I’m sure you know more of them than I do.
The stories may be true and they may not, but that’s not the point.
The point is, the moral of this story (and other ones like it) is completely unrealistic, and, for the life of me, I don’t know why teachers are so fond of repeating it.
How often do you experience something that seems bad but, in retrospect, ended up benefitting you tremendously?
Not so much.
I’d say probably one out of every one thousand incidences.
Yes, I have had moments when I looked back and said, “Wow! That thing that looked really bad ended up being really good! Thank you, Hashem! I will now start working on increasing my levels of belief and trust in You!”
But those moments were the exception, rather than the rule.
Now, if you want to play devil’s advocate, you can point out that we will eventually see how everything was for our ultimate good. By eventually, of course, you mean “after death.”
But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about instant gratification, the almost immediate knowledge that one specific incident was very beneficial in the long run.
Those flashes of instant gratification are very rare, and there’s no way you can ever come to rely on them.
Neither should you.
So, next time you miss the bus, don’t start checking the news for the bus bombing that must have occurred. When you catch a terrible stomach virus and can’t digest a thing, don’t expect the school lunch to have been poisoned.
Everything G-d does is good for you, right?
But you’re not necessarily going to see the benefits right away.
In fact, you may have to wait 120 years for it.
So stop waiting for wake-up calls. Start working on your faith in Hashem and trash the concept of instant gratification, because you’re going to be disappointed.
Hashem is good.
Everything He does is good.
But missed airplanes don’t always crash.