It’s Thanksgiving night in the United States, and I’m in a Bloomington, Illinois area hotel. I’d been a bit concerned about arriving on time because AA 3628 DFW-BMI is perpetually late. But last night it was early, and while Marvin wasn’t responsible for all of DFW’s flight operations, I feel certain he was a bit responsible for some of it. Marvin Matthews operated like he was some living commercial for the good old days of American Airlines. Technically this flight was on Envoy, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines, and its largest regional carrier. I hope this post gets Marvelous Marvin all the accolades this hidden hero deserves.
We flew on an Embraer 175L, which was, unbelievably, my first time on this aircraft, despite flying almost exclusively on AA for ~20 years. I had been upgraded to first class by virtue of my status, and since this flight was often late, and it was the eve of a holiday, I’d moved my seat to 1A, the bulkhead, in order to attempt to bee bop myself right off the plane and ensure I made it to the rental car counter in time (3628 often had been landing right at the time the rental car counter closed).
“Now boarding Group 1 and active military personnel…,” the gate agent said, after no Concierge Key members were found to be on the flight. I knew that most of first class was empty since I had my pick of all but about three seats, so I walked to the gate, and delightedly started boarding.
Someone with a very long stride was behind me. I am 5′ 1″ and also have a broken fifth metatarsal, which is not recovering on schedule, so I was not exactly Speedy Dr. Suz. Turns out it was the Captain. And the walk was long.
I heard him say to someone, “Are we all good?” (I don’t think I wanted to know why we would not be good, but sounds like some minor issue had been solved).
“Yes, sir!” A big smile and a thumbs up for the Captain. It was Marvin.
I was the first passenger to board. Marvin greeted me like I was his old friend. I was already in a good mood, knowing the plane was ready and we were boarding early and didn’t even have a full flight. But Marvin’s friendly greeting made me smile more.
“Now watch your step right here,” he said. There was a small gap between the plane’s parking area and the end of the gate. It was very small, but Marvin wasn’t letting that hurt anyone. He gently put his hand right under my elbow just in case I missed. I don’t know how to even explain what a kind gesture this was. Maybe I thought it was my half limp and short self.
But it was actually the nature of Marvin.
Since I was in 1A, I could hear everything, as well as see almost everything through a little sliver of my window and the “poofy” area where the plane was parked. Every single person that boarded that plane, Marvin greeted as if that person was the most special ever to fly American Airlines. He smiled, greeted them, welcomed them, made sure they watched their step, made wonderful comments when families with children came on board, told them what lovely families they were, how terrific the children looked, and on and on, with different wonderful comments for everyone.
In between the boarding gaps of people, the talked with the two flight attendants, asking them what they were doing for Thanksgiving. As was his style with all of us, he treated them like they mattered more than anyone. I was beginning to see that the moniker “AAngel” was probably because of employees like Marvin.
At some point in his discussion with the FAs, he said that his wife had been a flight attendant for 25 years. I assumed she had retired, but that was only an assumption on my part, due to the loving and positive way in which he spoke. I hope they get 25-plus more years together.
I tried to snap a picture of this delightful AAngel who had just made my night a pure joy. This blurry shot is all I was able to capture.
I almost got up and asked him for one, but it was too close to the cabin door closing when I thought of that. I did have the thought, finally, to ask my FA if she knew his name–and told her why: That I wanted to write in to AA and compliment him because he was like some wonderful commercial for the airline. As the FAs were standing there talking to him, my FA (the one assigned to my cabin), asked him. I did not hear her words specifically, but I heard him spell his name for her and even give what his number was. I assume it was an employee ID number or something similar. I am not posting that number here, but will be DMing and emailing that to AA with this post.
I am not sure what Marvin’s job title is. He had on a vest that said ENVOY, and was not a gate agent or anything that is often so public-facing, but he should be. I know at most Envoy outposts, which are generally smaller airports, such as BMI, where I am, or LAW where I used to live, Envoy employment meant one did everything from being a gate agent to loading and unloading bags (in LAW a few years ago it was for $12 an hour part time only, though the flying benefits were wonderful). At DFW, that’s likely a very different story, but I have no idea.
What I know is that Marvin Matthews reminded me of the YouTube bunny trail I went on just a few days prior to my flight. I watched something and suddenly “old airline commercials” appeared, so I watched. The airline industry is never so strikingly different than when you see with your own eyes how much it has changed since you have been alive. When I say that Marvelous Marvin Matthews made me think of a commercial from the “olden days” of air travel, that is probably one of the greatest things I can say about this dear man.
American Airlines, please, please, do something to celebrate the greatness you have at DFW. After all, it’s experiences like this that keep us flying with you.
By the way, for those of you wondering, we departed a few minutes early, landed a few minutes early, and I had my rental car well before my bag came out, it was all so fast. Originally I had been scheduled to fly to another city and on Thanksgiving Day, but when I changed destinations, I saw there was only one flight from DFW today and it was going to land 8 minutes after the rental car counters all closed, if it even landed on time (which, incidentally, it did not; it landed 44 minutes late, not counting de-planing time),which is how I ended up flying in the night before. I am an experienced world traveler and, therefore, understand that Marvin is not responsible for operations at AA’s largest hub–which, by the time we landed, according to Flight Aware, had this mess happening–something no one can control:
That said, somehow Marvin has that beautiful spirit that makes people think everything is going to be okay, even on a dreary rainy night. And it was.
The world has become much uglier over the past few years. Some attribute it to Covid and the isolation we all endured for too long. Some say it’s the inflation, economy, and all that goes with it. When it comes to travel, those of us who do it often get frustrated by things like the recent summer madness, constant delays–and worst of all, increasing service prices while decreasing service amenities. People seem–on an overall basis–more curt, more harsh, more entitled. I suppose, though, of course, that’s not how everyone or everything is, when I encounter the absolute opposite in such a beaming way, something inside me just recognizes light. I miss it.
Welcome back to The Doc is Out. I have a whole list of posts that are coming soon (at least if WordPress ever fixes the tech issues with this blog…). This one just couldn’t wait.
Tonight from the Bloomington, IL area, I am thankful for Marvin. Happy Thanksgiving, Marvin, wherever you are. Please keep being you.