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BY Marc

“AA”ngles in the sky: Flying with Tourette Syndrome

There is no question that one of the most stressful experiences in my life is traveling.  Comically, that’s a big part of my job now. Obviously, one of the worst parts is when I have to sit next to someone on a plane who might be offended by something that I tic.  Even though some people are very understanding, it kills me that I have to tic something so offensive for the whole duration of a flight.    To ameliorate the sting of my tics, I always make an announcement to all the people on a flight that sit near me.

On a recent flight, after I made my announcement I looked up to see that my seat was located next to an Asian couple.  Immediately, I started to tic slurs for Asians.  I sat down and continued to try to explain my disorder to these two individuals.  Although the situation was not hostile, it was incredibly uncomfortable especially since the man and woman switched sits with each other so the man was now sitting next to me.

Within 30 seconds of me sitting down, out of nowhere a flight attendant came over and asked in the most sincere and kind way for the couple to get up and follow him to new seats.  He was an angel in the sky!  I’ve been on countless flights with incredibly understanding flight attendants, but no one had ever exhibited this sort of understanding of my disorder and social intelligence.   His professionalism and execution was beyond anything I had experienced on a flight.   The best part of it all is that no one sat next to me for the whole flight!  Unfortunately, I lost his information but I think his name was Jesse!

Thanks a lot Jesse for making my life easier!

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Written on August 20, 2010 by:

Marc Elliot knows the importance of understanding people's differences. He was born with a rare disease that left him with virtually no intestines, and at age nine, he developed a neurological disorder called Tourette's syndrome. He is now inspiring audiences all across the country by sharing his life story to convey the value of tolerance and the basic attitudes and behaviors that allow it to flourish. You can visit his website at

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