Pie in the sky.

For somebody who routinely feels impatient and unhinged by things over which I have no control, today was an absolute exercise in the Higher Path.

It started with me being totally exhausted by the events of the last week: The drive up to NYC from Atlanta with Lulu and 700 pounds of her college stuff (with an earthquake in Virginia thrown in for good measure).  The interim rainy afternoon spent making 25 quarts of peach plum jam with my darling domestic goddess/niece Donna.

Sweet harvest!

The collective freakout over Hurricane Irene that left New York without transit for two days and yet astonishingly tranquil. My sweet, brilliant father-in-law riddled with cancer and wracked with an urgent need to figure out what his obituary will say and who is going to get every tchotchke in his apartment. The wrenching absence of my still-missing cat, Domino.

Cute room, Lulu!

The unpacking, moving in, and “decorating” (i.e. finding a place for the aforementioned 700 pounds of stuff) of Lulu’s new 7’ by 13’ off-campus room. Obsessively cleaning her entire little house, then worrying obsessively about whether it will ever be cleaned again.

Taking trains, buses and automobiles in and out of the city to meet my husband at the U.S. Open. Driving back down to Philly, then driving home yesterday from Philly to Atlanta and trying to keep my eyes open the whole way. Then getting up this morning at 5 a.m. to get to the airport to leave for 6 days on a recruiting trip (and yeah, a trip to the beach) with my husband in Tegucigalpa, (love that name) Honduras.

Only to find, when I arrived at check-in, that I had made my reservation through Expedia for Sunday, September 4. Not Friday, September 2.  Oops. Merde!

After 30 completely unproductive minutes on the phone with Expedia, I learned that I would just have to make a whole new reservation with American Airlines for whatever they decided to charge me. Which would obviously be something obscene. I was almost in tears/an Irish rage because I knew a) my husband would be furious, b) we’d also lose the money we’d already spent on our flight to Roatan and the hotel, c) I was pretty much screwed, and d) I really really needed a nap.

With a mere 30 minutes to go before my flight left, I slunk up to the counter and asked the American Airlines agent what it was going to cost to change my ticket, then called my husband (who was taking a nonstop flight 2 hours later) to give him the bad news. While I was explaining to him that I’d basically ruined our entire trip before it began, Linda called over a manager, explained my situation, and somehow got him to agree to change my ticket for nothing. I’ve never – EVER – had something like that happen with American Airlines (or any airline) and I seriously could not believe my luck.

Airborne at last!

Until Linda told me I was going to have to run to catch my flight – and I sprinted to the security line, which was at least 45 minutes long. I called Larry again to tell him I wasn’t going to make it and he told me to go to the front of the line. Now usually I am a bossy, pushy, “me-first” kind of person – but even I know you don’t try to pull that crap in a security line. I was desperate though – so I asked a friendly TSA agent if there was any way I could go to the front since I had exactly 5 minutes to get to the gate. He said – “Well, I can’t let you, but if all these people agree, it’s okay with me.” And all of a sudden, like the Red Sea parting, one person after another after another moved to the side and said – “Yeah, go ahead of me!” “Get your flight!” and “Hope you make it!”  And then, wonder of wonders, the TSA agent checking my ID grabbed my hand, personally escorted me through the line, reminded me to pick up my computer, and yelled at my sprinting back … – “Good luck!”

I raced down the concourse and was the second-to-last person on the flight. El Milagro!

Now, with all the crap news on TV about the economy, jobs, American desperation and pessimism – what I encountered today was just exactly the opposite of that. On this Labor Day weekend, people doing routine, fairly thankless jobs – a ticket agent for American Airlines & her manager, two TSA agents, and a whole bunch of people on line with planes of their own to catch – went way, WAY out of their way to be kind to somebody they’d never seen before, and to go the extra mile to help.It didn’t just save my vacation – it saved my faith in us… and made me want to remember to be that kind of person, too, whenever and wherever I can.

My happy ending at Cocolobo in Roatan, Honduras!

I stand (or rather lie) corrected.

Happy Labor Day, y’all!!!

10 thoughts on “Pie in the sky.

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It’s always so nice to hear about people being decent, good things happening, and everything working out for the best just when you most especially need it to! And such beautiful photos! I have to admit I’m a little (ok, quite a lot) jealous of anyone who is lying in a hammock surrounded by nature when I’m up to my eyeballs in sick kids and late bills, but I can still appreciate how blessed we are to have such beauty to turn to when life starts moving in fast-forward.

    Thanks for the great writing! Keep it coming…

  2. One of your gifts is the ability to depict the maddening insanity of life, and at the same time find the place where the sun is streaming in. Congratulations on your airport experience — that could have been a mess. (I had a similar experience with American Airlines a few years ago. And the ticket agent who saved the day was a man named Sunny. Really.)

    I hope you’re feeling soothed in Honduras.

    • Charles, if I have that gift of depicting the insanity of life — I probably learned it from reading YOUR great blog, Mostly Bright Ideas! I still laugh every time I hear somebody preaching about —-biotics and your sage advice to never listen further. I can’t wait to read about your American Airlines experience with Sunny … I’ll be waiting for that post! Since I just bashed American Airlines (and their mileage program) in a post awhile back, I figured I was required to honor them publicly when they came through in an entirely helpful, positive way — and kept me from looking like a total idiot. Vacation saved! And now I’m in gorgeous Roatan and feeling about as relaxed as humanly possible — thanks for the comment!!!

  3. Betty – this is great – we had a similar experience last Saturday in London, trying desperately to get home pre-hurricane after a wrenching family week there – and a really terrific Scottish BA employee moved heaven and earth – or at least took pity on us and got us on the plane – made all the difference and I was so grateful. People are good – often – and it does pay to remember that. enjoy your trip – still holding out hope for Domino.

    • Susan — so glad to hear you had a life-affirming British Airways encounter that ended in your getting on the plane home pre-hurricane. It makes such a difference in the way one feels about all of humanity … and I always wish that organizations would encourage their employees to make things work for customers — because you end up being a client for life! Domino is still missing but thanks for your wishes for his return!

  4. Whoo-freakin’-hoo!! Ain’t life grand? In the last few years I’ve developed this weird attitude that things are gonna work out, no matter what. It isn’t Pollyanna-ish, it’s more a deep-seated, absolute trust in my concept of God. And by “work out” I mean in any sort of way; I give God lots of latitude and she never disappoints.

    I couldn’t be happier for you and this terrific experience. Thanks a bunch for sharing it.

    • Whatever is going to happen — I truly believe we end up where we’re supposed to be… and our “hardships” and failures often lead us to a far better place than we originally intended. So … amen & good grace to YOU, Lynda!

  5. My god what a week Betty! I cried all the way with you (I’m really sorry to hear your cat hasn’t returned!) and cried when I saw the fantastic final photo. Sheesh make room for moi…

    It’s easy to spend our lives complaining and bitching about the airlines et al. What a lovely change to hear there are decent people out there. Thank you for telling us about them.

    • Rosie — I’ll send you big besos from our beach on Roatan today — have a great weekend… and I’m sure you are one of the people who would make my day sunnier if I encountered you in the museum! xoxox b

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