“Yes,” the woman said hesitantly, eyeballing him from forehead to toe with a disgusted look. She didn’t even try to hide the revulsion in her eyes as she stared at him.
He cocked his head to the side, unsure if he had misinterpreted the woman’s meaning. Her words would set everything into perspective.
When Eric decided to board a plane that day, he’d only wanted to reach Kingston, Jamaica, in time for his best friend’s bachelor party.
It’d been long since they saw each other, especially since the world had been in the jaws of lockdown for almost two years. But now that everything was clearing up, Eric knew he’d finally see his mate again. He had no idea what was waiting for at the airport.
Eric Johson Harvey was your everyday thirty-five-year-old dad living in Tampa, Florida. A business owner in numerous fields, Eric had made a name for himself as a club and boutique owner in his neighborhood.
His life was usually divided between work, family, and friends. But all this would change when the pandemic took over the globe.
Eric and his best friend Cody had only parted ways for a few days when countries worldwide declared their lockdowns. Cody had just gotten engaged to his high school sweetheart, a glorious event that Eric took part in.
But soon after, the two wouldn’t see each other for almost twenty-four months. Now that lockdown was finally lifted, and life was limping back to normal, Eric couldn’t wait to see his friend again.
As luck would have it, the stars aligned for Cody and his fiance to tie the knot. Eric saw this as an additional reason to visit Kingston where Cody had started a life for himself.
Eric packed all his essentials and booked a flight to Jamaica. He’d flown many times and had developed a love for a particular airline that always made him feel at home. But that flight would be different.
As always, Eric bought a first-class ticket and hurried to the airport. The place was packed with passengers and staff. Eric cut through them to his airline’s booth to sort out the particulars of his flight.
With his boarding pass in hand, he joined the line for his flight. Everything was going great until someone pocked his back.
Eric turned around with his brows drawn up. At first, he’d thought it was someone he knew making themselves known, but then his sight landed on a blonde-haired middle-aged woman.
She looked up at him with a smile playing on her face and waved. Confused as to what was happening, Eric waved back. He thought this was a classic case of mistaken identity. He was wrong.
Eric was about to tell the woman she must’ve confused him with someone else when she spoke. “I believe you may be in the wrong place,” the woman began. “This line is for priority boarding. You need to let us through.”
Eric’s brows furrowed as he looked around to ensure he was in the right place. Seeing that he was, he said, “Priority. Meaning first-class, correct?” He wasn’t ready for the woman’s response.
“Yes,” the woman said hesitantly, eyeballing Eric from forehead to toe with a disgusted look. She didn’t even try to hide the revulsion in her eyes as she blatantly stared at him.
Eric cocked his head to the side, unsure if he had misinterpreted the woman’s meaning. Her words would soon set everything into perspective.
“Now, excuse me,” the woman grated, trying to push past Eric. “They will call y’all after we board.” Eric didn’t budge, given his body stature, as the woman attempted to cut before him in the line.
His mind worked through her words, combing through the different inferences within them. He let out a slow exhale as he realized what the woman meant. He would teach her a lesson.
By now, many passengers in the line had their eyes trained on Eric and the woman. Some even gasped when she said, “They will call y’all after we board.”
But Eric had been through enough of these unsavory scenarios to know how to defuse them. He was also an expert in escalating them beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.
He gave a low chuckle, locking eyes with the woman who held her chin high. Shoving his first-class priority boarding pass in her face, Eric said, “You can relax, ma’am. I’m in the right spot.
I’ve been here longer, so you can board after me.” With that, he turned around, thinking it was over. But the woman’s voice would radiate behind him as she escalated the situation.
“He must be military or something,” the woman said, continuing to stereotype Eric. “But we paid for our seats, so he still should have to wait.”
Something in Eric snapped, and he whirled around. “Military?” he asked incredulously. Patting his belly, he added, “I’m too big to be in anyone’s military.” The other passengers giggled. But Eric’s follow-up would leave them clapping.
“I’m just an African American with money,” Eric said, fully leaning into the path the woman had taken with her comments. Everybody in line started clapping, and the woman, burning with embarrassment, covered her head with a shawl.
Although Eric would quietly board his flight and attend his best friend’s bachelor party and wedding, his story would reach millions of people worldwide.
Eric posted a photo of him in his seat with the woman scowling behind him. He’d only intended to share it with his family back in Tampa but woke up to the post doing rounds all over the internet.
With over three hundred thousand shares and eight hundred thousand reactions on the original post, Eric’s story is the perfect example of don’t judge a book by its cover.