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.
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.
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.
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.
I stand (or rather lie) corrected.
Happy Labor Day, y’all!!!