Monday, April 18, 2011

The Long Version

My #1 lesson learned:  people are genuinely good.  Being stuck ALL day long at an airport seems like the type of situation that would bring out the worst in mankind, but only a few caved.  Most passengers were looking to help others, make friends, or just stay positive.

As we took off for our first gate change, a woman asked if she could carry my duffle bag for me.  She was headed the same way, and I'm sure I looked like the perfect candidate for a little service.  When we arrived at our gate she asked if I needed a bathroom break or to go get some food.  I trust I really could have left everything, even my child, with her and returned from a well needed break without a single thing missing.  I turned her offer down though as I felt she had done enough to help us out.

At our next gate change, an even nicer stranger helped us out.  I say even nicer because he wasn't headed our direction.  I spotted airport personnel and asked how I could get on one of those buggy things to the new concourse.  She didn't seem so sure but thought she could flag one down.  Well, this guy standing a few feet off just says "Where are you going?"  while grabbing a handful of my stuff (car seat and duffle).  He wasn't even planning on catching a flight out and had no idea when he might get a chance to book one.  So he figured he could take the time to walk me all across the airport.  He has a 2-year-old girl, and a boy on the way.  I knew he missed them dearly and couldn't wait to get home . . . but here he was using his time to help me out.  What a wonderful man.

I finally decided a bathroom break was needed.  So I asked a nice couple to watch my stuff and I carried Reid over to the ladies room.  The stalls are small and it was taking some maneuvering to get us both behind the door.  A woman primping at the mirror turned and said "let me help,"  when I spotted her sister missionary tag. "I'm LDS too!" was my response to her kind offer.  She seemed dazed for a second, and then started practicing her old English skills. She was headed home after 1 1/2 years in Italy.  Her daughter and grandchildren were waiting for her in Florida, and she didn't even know if she'd get there by the days end.  What a long long day she must have had.  Still, she smiled as we chatted about the Lord's great work.

Perhaps the greatest helper the whole day though was the gate worker.  When he asked for volunteers to stay behind I was eager.  I would have loved to get out to UT, but at this point in the day we wouldn't have landed until after midnight and I wasn't sure Reid would get any rest.  The rules were, if there was too much weight I could stay behind, get a hotel, $15.00 food voucher, $250.00 flight voucher, and a flight the next morning BUT if there was room I had to board.  He filled the plane the best he could, and then told me he could fit me on the flight.  I laughed and said "no" in my best whine.  He whispered, "I have to put two more people on this flight."  I knew that meant me and the guy who volunteered to stay behind had to go.  He made that clear from the beginning.  I just stared back at him with a sad and defeated look, but didn't say anything unkind.  It felt so ironic, a dozen others waited on the standby list, begging for my spot.  He finally told me to hang on one second.  Then came back a minute later and grabbed the couple next to me.  "I have your tickets ready he told them," as he ushered them on, quick enough so no one would have time to question.  I KNOW he was suppose to board me.  He (well, his company rather) owed the couple nothing if they couldn't get on the plane.  He was clearly breaking the rules to help a mother in need. And I am so grateful to him!  When we returned to Chicago a week later he was the one to greet us, I couldn't thank him enough.  Of all the gate workers we had that day I noticed he was the one who was "yelled" at the least.  His smile was contagious and he truly showed sympathy for the travelers stuck at his gate.  I thought he was a fabulous lesson of the universe giving you what you deserve.  He received kindness and laughter during a "pain in the butt day" because he chose to remain upbeat and helpful.  

About the strip tease.  Well, I forgot to take my extra tee-shirt with me when I finally went on my bathroom break.  And right when we got back to our belongings, Reid puked all over me.  Ugh.  I just threw that old tee-shirt over my nice clothes and worked some magic.  Then I decided I was sick of my bra.  So, I took that off too.  All while sitting at the gate with hundreds of other passengers.  I was so sly I think only one or two people were curious, and even then they didn't see a thing.  It's still hilarious to think about.

As for the world's best traveller.  Reid was amazing!  I had some skiers tell me how amazed they were that I could still be smiling at 7:25 at night.  I just replied that your perspective changes as a mother.  All I cared about was keeping him happy and getting him the sleep he needed.  Getting mad at the gate employee or cussing at the board wasn't going to help me accomplish either of those things.  Sure, I wanted to laugh, cry, and punch someone in the face all at the same time to see which one felt best . . . but really what was the point?

I was amazed the next day.  Dozens of people (not even ones going to SLC) remembered me and asked how Reid was holding up.  I was surprised each time someone going to Oklahoma or San Diego would talk to me about the previous day's events.  One man just said "Of course I remember seeing you stuck here all day.  You were probably the one everyone noticed the most."  I wished I had a big sign on my back that said "I'm a Mormon."  I really think people noticed and remembered simply because I was able to keep a smile on my face.  And if they knew what I knew about God, Jesus Christ, and the Restoration of the Gospel they probably could have kept a smile too.

Reid was pretty great on the plane ride(s) as well.  On the way home we had about four or five people compliment him for being so good.  That's always nice since you worry about having the baby who screams the whole way and ruins everyone's sleep. He may have been that near the end of our bus ride to Rockton . . . but at that point I was done trying to be perfect and just so excited to hand him over to Ben!  

1 comment:

Scott and Claudia said...

Great memory! You truly made lemonade with the lemons you were given. I'm so grateful you got your mother's positivity, instead of my "you know what."
Love, Pa

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