“I wonder if we’ll actually get to take off at all today?” I mused aloud. The woman next to me clutched her small, rolling suitcase handle and smiled. “Hopefully!” she responded. We now finally stood in the bridge ramp after several different delays had been posted, causing passengers on this flight to stand up, sit down, line up, re-line up… hopefully this time would prove to be the actual boarding.
In the moments that followed, I learned that the woman I was speaking with was a trainer of teachers. “I am, too,” I told her. She nodded. We both had been forced to reschedule our flights. Now, she was on her way to see a friend in Newark, New Jersey. “Then I’m driving home to Massachusetts tomorrow,” she told me. After boarding the airplane, we took our separate seats.
Following a successful flight from Portland, Oregon and a relatively gentle landing in Denver, Colorado I stepped off the plane, eventually finding my way to an airport Jamba Juice. Studying the departure monitor, I learned my flight would be departing out of gate C12. As I approached that gate, I saw the woman again. “Hey, how was your flight?” I asked her. In this second conversation, I learned that she worked with high school teachers, training them in a social studies program. While in Oregon, where we had just been, she had stayed in the Columbia Gorge Hotel, but actually presented in the beautiful Skamania Lodge. She was married. Her kids were grown. After boarding the airplane, we took our separate seats.
After touching down in Newark and deplaning, I glanced around to find directions to baggage claim. Making my way through crowds of phone-fixed travelers, I eventually found my way down an escalator to a large, metallic conveyor that would soon deliver my suitcase. After waiting around five minutes, I saw the woman. I approached her once again, “Everything go okay on that flight?” I asked. She smiled, “Yes.” I learned that the friend she was meeting was an old friend. One from college. They hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and this friend only lived fifteen minutes from the airport. Tonight they would go to dinner. She looked forward to this rare visit.
And then her bag arrived. She said good-bye. I said good-bye. It was nice chatting.
And she headed out the door to meet her friend outside.
I will never see her again. This single-serving friend. I didn’t even get her name.