Travel Expert Talk Show Radio Host Stephanie Abrams - Info
Radio Show Host, Travel Expert, Stephanie Abrams' Travel Blog

The Philadelphia-Nashville Tourism Connector

I’m not a coffee drinker but you might find me in a Starbucks getting a Diet Coke to wash down and destroy the calories in a fat-laden blueberry muffin. Didn’t you know that? Oh, yes! There are rituals that will cancel or destroy calories in anything! Break a cookie before you eat it and some of the calories, at least half of them, will fall out in the process. Eat anything heavily caloric and then have a Diet Coke and it will cancel out the calories. That’s the secret to my diet regimen. And one of my other rules when I’m traveling is, when the plane lands, the first place I head for, if there’s one within fifty miles, is a Waffle House. Waffles, eggs and crispy bacon. I’m salivating now. But today, the Waffle House in Nashville, a major tourism attraction, and the Starbucks in Philadelphia, the city that gives lip-service to it’s motto as being the City of Brotherly Love where everybody may love everybody except the Brothers who live there, comes to mind in vivid colors of my imagination.

Two vibrant and important destinations for domestic and international travelers, Philadelphia and Nashville, are in the news now. My author’s mentality brings me to look at current events through a fictional lens (and btw: read my novel, RUMORS!). . .

So let us look at the facts and then take a walk through my author’s imagination:

Fact: An African-American in Nashville is clearly responsible for saving not just his own life, as he’d like us to believe was his motive for tackling and disarming the shooter who took four lives and would have taken more with the AR-15 he was using, but for saving the rest of the patrons in the Waffle House, the last place on earth you’d expect to hear anything other than the sound of forks and knifes clattering against dishes and chatter and giggling, happy people filling their bellies with the best comfort food available.  The nation thanks James Shaw, Jr. , whatever his motives, for doing the right thing and putting himself, while trying to save his own life as he explains it, in the line of fire and in the most danger resulting in saving his life, yes, but also saving the lives of those still living, in the seconds that it took the maraude to pop out life-ending bullets.

Now let’s imagine:

Let’s imagine that the mentality of the staff at the Starbucks in Philadelphia was the mentality of the staff at this particular Nashville’s Waffle House. Let us imagine that James Shaw, Jr. sauntered in, sat down, decided to use the men’s  room before he ordered and the police were call to extricate him from the Waffle House because he was considered to be a “loiterer” and undesirable and knowing that the police were called, James left the establishment. Let us imagine that James said to his companions, as Moses said to those in Egypt, “Let’s get the flock out of here!” and they left. The staff in this imaginary establishment in Nashville called the  police back to tell them they didn’t need to come because the menacing men had left but, ironically, it’s a pity they weren’t on the way because, within minutes of James Shaw, Jr.’s exit, Travis Reinking, a mythical person in this imaginary tale, arrives with his AR-15, massacres everyone in sight as there’s no one to stop him.

There are heroes who walk among us. And there are evil ones as well.

There are lessons to be learned from examining the “what-if’s” of these two food establishments, very different in story and outcome, but with morals to the story of each and morals to the fictional version of “what if James Shaw, Jr. had been removed by management because they didn’t like his face.” You never know who is the hero among us.

If you think you can tell by their height, weight, clothes they are wearing or the color of their skin, the language that they speak,or  the way they comb their hair, who are the devils and who are sent by angels to help us, then guess again.

Mamma raised you good, James Shaw, Jr. You may think that you, in this moment, acted selfishly, but I”m here to tell you  that when the moment of truth was before you, doing the right thing kicked into action and the people around you were so lucky that you were there.

Saint-Exupery, author of many writings in French but most popularly known for the story, “The Little Prince,  was a decorated WWII pilot as well. In one of his essays which I read in French in college, his message was clear and stuck with me and came to mind today when I heard James Shaw, Jr., in the most humble manner, tell the audience assembled and watching on TV that he is not a hero and was acting selfishly.

James, if you don’t read French, get a translation of St.-Ex’s essay about heroism. Saint-Exupery was praised for his heroism as a WWII pilot but he said, loosely translated here, that when the moment befalls you when it’s clear that you must act, you just act. You do what needs to be done without thought of personal safety, consequences, good or bad, or praise in the aftermath for your actions.  It is only after you’ve done what you know must be done and what you know you are capable of doing that the moments in which our actions took place are elevated to “Acts of Heroism.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery never thought of himself as a hero.

My father was awarded an impressive display of medals for his military service. Among his medals, framed and placed in a focal spot in my home, are his Silver Star and Bronze Star and Purple Heart and more. He never thought of himself as a hero either.

When you put yourself at risk and your actions save the lives of others, no matter what your personal interpretation or thought process, know that the positive results are the result of heroism, even if it doesn’t fit your own definition.

Bravo to you, James Shaw, Jr. I’m glad you were in Nashville in a spot that was divinely planned for you to be in, and that you were not harmed in the process of doing an amazing Good Deed.  We can only hope there’s another lesson in Brotherly Love to be learned from your actions.

And here’s a little travel tip. . . When I fly to Florida and we take a late flight that lands at 10pm or 11pm, we get our rental car and head straight for the closest Waffle House! There’s nothing like ending the night of  travel with a good breakfast. Yum! You have to wonder about the psyche of someone who would target such a feel-good place in such a heinous way.

While we are busy examining how to make America safe for everyone to be in the most innocent of places, we need to be focused on looking into the eyes of those we live with, go to school with, work with and look for ways to reach those in a dark place to identify and deal with the dark thoughts and plans festering inside them before they erupt in the most heinous ways in the most special places. We have a huge populations so the number of people off their rails is larger than a small country would have. But how to we identify these people and shape them up or direct them to places that can before they erupt into the insane, disturbing and sobering sources of evil? Fixing the gun situation needs to be accompanied by a serious plan to fix the people who seek to destroy innocent others.

Add to your list of “Must Do Today” the reminder to spread a little love and kindness around. When we leave those on the fringes on the fringes, they appear to burst back into the center in completely unacceptable ways. Aside from keeping them from weapons of massive destruction, maybe we can redirect their anger and evil thoughts and plans. That’s worth thinking about too.

--Gotta Fly Now!sm
Your Personal Travel Expert
Nationally syndiated radio show host
Stephanie Abrams

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