Are the rules always important?

I was sitting next to a woman on a four and a half hour flight the other day. Turns out she was 80 years old. Not a withering little old lady 80, but rather a smart, well-dressed, very healthy 80. She got on the plane with a very unhappy little 10lb dog in a carryon. I don’t mean kinda unhappy, I mean that little dog was so mad it was about to dig through the leather bag.

It had already had a tranquilizer and wasn’t even remotely affected. It could see out all sides of the bag; had plenty of air and it was clear this dog was used to being treated as a prince. The lady decided she wanted his head to stick out of the top of the bag so it would calm down. That is when it all started. The head flight attendant and Grandma were on.

“Ma’am, stick it in the bag and slide it under your seat – it’s a safety issue” said the flight attendant. “But he’s more well-behaved when his head sticks out” said my seatmate (and she was right.) The flight attendant won. There was never a safety issue once we took off, but now it was a conflict that my seatmate wasn’t going to win, much to my dismay.

So I wonder if rules are always important. I say no. Not always. We were nowhere near an exit; the cabin would have been happier with a quiet dog, etc., etc.

Here are some things to think about with rules:

1. Why was the rule put in place to begin with?
2. In the particular case, does the rule accomplish that end?
3. Do you have the authority to change it or allow another a pass on it?
4. Are you just insisting on the rule because it’s a rule?

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