Jersey Jack – July 2017


Be Blessed, Not Stressed

Cancelled Flight Leads to Reflection on Going With the Flow & Kindness

Jack Guarnieri

Jack Guarnieri

by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball &

I  was traveling early one Sunday morning, going from Sacramento to San Francisco, then connecting to Vegas. I returned my rental car, took the shuttle to the terminal and upon my arrival, was issued a new boarding pass for a flight to SFO the next morning. “What’s this?” I asked the gate attendant. She said my flight had been canceled so I was booked on another flight a day later.

Just like that my flight was canceled. Another 50 people or so were in the same situation. Some started to loudly complain while a few were trying to get an Uber ride from Sacramento to San Francisco. I opened the app for the rental company I use (the same company I’d just returned a car to) and booked another rental for the 102-mile drive. I’m not waiting a day to get to Las Vegas!

The guy next to me was still trying Uber while others were still complaining. I looked at the guy and asked if he wanted a ride to San Francisco? He looked at me, not sure if I was serious, and asked, “Really?” When I answered “Yes,” it was “Okay, let’s go!”

Butch Peel, who writes the manuals among other things for Jersey Jack Pinball, was with me at the airport (he was headed to New Mexico). When I told him I made a new friend who’d be riding with me to San Fran­cisco, he looked at me and smiled, knowing I’m a soft touch to help a stranger. He said something softly to me like he hoped the guy wasn’t an axe murderer and I waved bye to Butch.

My short-term travel companion’s name was James, and we hopped on the shuttle. We then bypassed the rental office, just like they do on the commercials, and walked to my car and drove off, passing scores of people waiting in line. I impressed James. On the ride, which takes me about an hour and forty minutes, James and I talked about travel, family, sports and why he and I were driving to San Francisco together. (As you might imagine, James now knows a lot more now about pinball!) When we arrived, we returned the car, hopped on the tram to the terminal and parted ways. James offered me money for the car rental, which I refused. As we parted, James said, “Jack, be blessed and not stressed.” I smiled. It was a nice thought on a Sunday morning when I’d miss going to church.

My flight from San Francisco to Vegas looked to be on time, and I got seat 15A. That was fine with me. I boarded, put my carry on up in the overhead compartment and took a seat. Ten minutes later, a lady had a boarding pass that said she had seat 15A and was trying to sit on my lap (really!). “Wait, let’s get a flight attendant,” I say. He came over and took both of our boarding passes. A few minutes later, a female flight attendant wanted to know what was going on. She asked for my boarding pass. Of course, I’d already given it to the guy, but I was able to pull it up on my phone. Oddly, she then walked away with my phone! (I’m thinking I can’t even record this for social media, not that I would since the airline I fly has become famous for dragging people off of flights.) A few minutes later, I’m upgraded to first class, seat 4A. Thanks! Maybe it’s a reward for giving James a ride to San Francisco, who knows.

I don’t really need to say this, but travel isn’t glamorous today. But, whether it’s a cancelled flight or a seat mix up, life’s too short to go ballistic. Figure it out, solve the problem quickly, move on. That’s what we do each day, all day, in business. Do we complain? (Even if we did, would anyone really care?)

Folks, sometimes you have to take what life deals you and work through it. Nothing I’ve done in this industry was ever a straight line. Nothing was ever easy. Who would expect anything to be easy today? Am I going to yell at authority and have an attitude about a situation that happens? How will that benefit anything? I made it to Las Vegas, I had a great and productive week there and I felt lucky to be doing what I do. It’s nice to appreciate some of the simple things, as well as feel blessed that you can do them with some really great people, family included. And if you’re open to it, you can meet some really neat people along the way.

This brings me back to my new friend, James. He’d given me a business card, which I really didn’t look at until later in the week. I took a few minutes and went to his website. Apparently, he’s an artist, a pretty good one. He’s also a retired building engineer who worked at a college for 30 years. James served in Vietnam and has been diagnosed with PTSD. To help him cope, he was encouraged to join an art class and it was there that he found his amazing talent.

The next time you have an opportunity to do something for a total stranger, at least think about it. Perhaps not everybody would have asked a total stranger to take a two-hour car ride with him, but then again, I’m not everybody. There was a reason I met James that day.

On the back of James’ card it reads: “Remember: Be Blessed And Not Stressed!!!” I couldn’t have said it any better.

Thank you, James!

Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999,, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at jack@


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