This is Bronwyn reporting from, of course, the A concourse at ATL International. I pray that this blog, expressing mild panic, minor drama, and genuine gratitude doesn't jinx my flight home :)
On my short hop from Richmond, Virginia, this afternoon I was given a complementary "Medallion Upgrade" = First Class Cabin. YES!
A flight that was scheduled to take off 30 minutes prior to ours was "cancelled due to mechanical issues" and their passengers were relocated to our flight. We were all assured that those holding first class seats would still be seated in the first class cabin. One of my new traveling companions was completely skeptical about the reason for the delay/cancellation of his flight. I tend to agree with him since both loads of passengers still totalled a less than full flight, including empty first class seats.
I was seated next to a Army National Guard Cavalry Soldier headed back to Afghanistan for his fifth tour in Iraq/Afghanistan, having been home for a two week leave to be with his wife as she gave birth to their twins; yes, folks, a boy and a girl. All are healthy and mom is well. I warned you there was drama!
I have an affinity for those Army National Guard troops thanks to Mary, Bud, Tom and Beth. Go Guard!
This soldier had never been upgraded to first class before. When I told him the drinks were free he hesitated. I get it, he's not supposed to drink in uniform. I said, "We sure as hell are not gonna think less of a soldier on his fifth deployment if he accepts one cocktail on the airplane." (I do have a reputation for encouraging less than compliant behavior in some circumstances. It's kind of like watering your livestock on the Sabbath. . . .)
"Crown and Coke" he replied to our fashionista flight attendant. She didn't bat a bogus eyelash. But she did return to confess the lack of Crown Royal on the airplane and very discreetly offered him a choice of Seagram's or Jack Daniels. He's a Virginia boy and took the Jack. Heineken in hand, I clinked his glass and offered a toast in thanksgiving for his service, his children, a successful mission, and a safe tour. He downed his cocktail like he was dying of thirst and promptly chased it with two mugs of coffee. Our flight attendant properly announced his presence and story over the intercom before landing and asked us to remain seated at the gate until he stood so we could all see the "true American hero" in our midst. He and I got misty-eyed, and we all clapped enthusiastically. He is praying to fly out of Atlanta within 24 hours to return to his mission. He hates getting stuck in Atlanta with nothing but a uniform when waiting for charter flights to fill. But he did say the local USO would take pretty good care of him. I will continue to pray for peace and the conclusion of our missions in the region.
Once in the airport I made my way from the B to A concourse to identify the location of my connecting flight gate. Upon arriving at A29 I was just in time to welcome the passengers disembarking from Kalispell, Montana. An elderly gentleman tripped over his toe on the door to the concourse and went sprawling to his knees and narrowly avoided a face-plant. I joined two other potential passengers in rushing to him to see if he was okay, my knees throbbing in sympathy pains. He was very slow to get up, announced that he thought he was okay, allowed us to assist him to a chair, and thanked us for the help. I reluctantly left and made my way to the restroom and then on to Houlihans for a Heineken and some Potato Soup.
"May I see your ID, please?' asked the 20-something female server.
HA! Okay . . . .
"Oh crap! I don't have my wallet! It must be in the restroom. I'll be right back!"
Prayer: "Thank you for carding me, ridiculous as it is to card a 48-year-old woman. Please let my wallet still be in the bathroom. Please let some Good Samaritan have found it and turned it in to the cleaning woman who was in there, please, please, please, please, please . . . . . ."
"Excuse me, Ma'am, did you or anyone find a black travel wallet in this stall or at the sink?"
I knew it wasn't there. I have a very visual memory and upon walking back in there I had ZERO recollection of having it in my hand when I was peeing or washing my hands. Damn. And she confirmed its absence. She suggested a couple logical and local places to check on this concourse and sent me away with a prayer for it to be found quickly.
I backtracked to A29 where the falling man had disrupted my normally careful airport routine. As I gained ground my visual memory kicked in. I had my wallet out to check my flight number against the gate information. When he fell I placed it on the counter, let go of my carry-on, and moved to assist him. As I departed I hadn't noticed the black wallet on the black counter and had walked away with my carry-on and tote-bag.
Prayer: please, please, please, please, please . . . .
"Ma'am," did you find . . . ."
She was smiling and holding it out for me. She said she had checked my boarding pass and was getting ready to page me, knowing I probably hadn't strayed too far from the gate of my departure.
"Thank you. Thanks be to God!"
She grinned and said, "You're welcome."
I did stop back in the women's room to let the cleaning woman know that it was found. She was pleased.
I then returned to my table and produced my ID. I thanked the server for carding me stating that it would have been really troubling and even more embarrassing had I not realized it was missing until she presented my bill!
Then again, she wasn't going to serve me a beer without my ID!!!
Therefore I also offer thanks for my vice. Thanks be to beer!!!!