Garret: Headed home, my flight was delayed and I ended up stranded in Minneapolis. While I was standing in line at the airport hotel, I struck up a conversation with one of the other stranded passengers. We both thought it was funny how the Delta staff cut in front of us and made us wait until they got served first. Humor kicked Pity out of our thoughts. But we were so tired we didn’t talk about much else.
The next morning, we both ended up on the same shuttle bus going to the airport. We exchanged travel stories, and found out that we’d both be flying into Salt Lake to catch our connections. She was on her way home to Sun Valley, after what she described as, “A wonderful weekend with my grandchildren.”
When we arrived at the airport, I figured that during the time we’d wait in line for security, I would give her a drawing. But she had TSA Precheck and I didn’t. The non-Precheck security line was so long, not only was she already on the plane, but I almost missed the plane. I was the last passenger to board the plane. Walking down the aisle, I noticed her sitting by the window reading a book. I didn’t want to interrupt her so I just found my seat and sat down. I figured I’d see her again once we landed in Salt Lake.
But she was sitting near the front, and I was at the back. By the time I got off the plane, she was gone. Then, when I read the readerboard to find my gate, I discovered that the flight going to Sun Valley was in the same terminal as mine. Success! I raced down the escalators to the ground level where all the small town flights were located. I walked through every row of seats. Twice. I scanned every stranger. Fail.
…continuing to look until the final boarding announcement for my flight. Standing last in line. Five people ahead of me. Four. Three…THERE SHE IS. “Two seconds! Gimme two seconds,” I told the gate attendant.
I pulled out the drawing, and used it to flag her down. “I’m so glad I found you. I wanted to give you something. A gift for not being afraid to reach out to a stranger…and for sharing your time and stories.”
The drawing was wrapped in protective paper, and since the gate attendant was holding the microphone in an impatient, don’t-make-me-use-this sort of way, I didn’t have time to unwrap it. I gave her the package and said, “It’s an art project that a friend and I have been working on. It’ll make more sense when you open it.”
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I really enjoyed talking with you. Wish we’d had more time. And I may not have mentioned…I’m Linda.”
Pausing for a moment in silence. “It was nice meeting you, Linda. I’m Garret. Safe travels on your way home. Thanks again…Oh, and this will help explain it further.” Handing her book number 128.