Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Blessed Assurance Just Ain't Mine

The agent was initially less than helpful.

"This is a code share ticket. You have to go to their counter."

"But I booked it through you."

"Ok, let me see," typing away and looking at the screen with some degree of frustration as she mumbles to her cohort. ". . . flight number . . . can't locate."

"Do you need the flight information?" I ask, having only handed her my frequent flyer card. "I have it here somewhere."

And we find the number simultaneously.

"Ok, I can give you the boarding pass."

A few steps away from the desk, movement on the flight info board catches my eye. My scheduled code share flight is delayed to the point that I will miss my connection. Back to the agent . . .

Smiling knowingly and with what looks like the emergence of some compassion, she says, "Did you see? There's a delay."

"So now what?"

"We could get you on standby for a direct flight through us."

"Great. What are my chances?"

"Can't promise anything but your the first on the list and there's still one unsold ticket."

"Your flight leaves 15 minutes after the one I have a seat on. If I choose you, I lose that opportunity. When would I get out if I don't get this seat?"

"Tomorrow before noon."

"But no guarantee?"

"Can't do it. But you are first on the list."

(Now for all the frequent flyers reading this who know that is pretty much a guarantee, I would ask that you keep your confidence to yourself. I have flown for years but rarely on standby. So there are lots of things I don't know.)

I take what is offered and walk away.

A few feet from the counter, more movement has my attention. This time it's the growing lines at all the counters. Something else has been canceled. There's enough movement to stir up my apprehension, so I return to my agent.

"Ok, last time here, I promise. I know you can't guarantee anything but could you give me a sign, a wink, something that suggests that I don't need to worry? I've got a court appointment tomorrow and I don't want to miss this flight."

Exaggerated wink. "I . . ." Exaggerated wink. "really . . . " Exaggerated wink. "can't promise . . ." Exaggerated wink. "but you . . . " Exaggerated wink. "may have . . . " Exaggerated wink. "a good chance." Exaggerated wink.

I breathe out for the first time since arriving at the airport, thank her and make my way through security to the gate area where I wait for an hour. Then the announcement comes.

"Flight blah, blah, blah is delayed further. All connections will be missed. Please proceed to the counter for reticketing."

This announcement should not have bothered me. I had winking assurance that I was going to make it off the standby list and onto the direct connection. But this delayed flight was my original. Maybe, just maybe, I think, they can "purchase" the empty seat for me. Or what if there's a person in the reticketing line that purchases the last seat?

Anxiety rising, I head toward the counter and my agent.

"What can we do to convince you?" the chorus cries out before I even make it to the counter. There's now a threesome and they are all convinced I'm a neurotic nutcase.

"Wellllllll . . ." And I explain my rather irrational but nonetheless very real feelings.

"I winked!" she laughingly said, repeating the action for emphasis. "What more could I do?"

"You could give me a seat on this plane," I pointed out with much timidity and the look of a woman who was nearing her limit.

"Ok, here. Fill this out," another agent takes control, handing me a comment card.

"What am I supposed to say?"

"How helpful we are."


"Because I'm giving you the seat."

And I praised the team who continued to point out how obvious it should have been to me that I had nothing to worry about.

Later, on the plane, secure in my seat and secure in the knowledge that I would make all my appointments the next day, I began to ponder my issues with hope, trust, and much of the unseen like for instance, GOD.

I could see the agent. I could see the signs she was giving me. I could hear the words she was saying and not saying. And yet, I didn't believe that I was going home until the evidence was in my hand.

No wonder my faithwalk is so shaky.

God isn't in the show and tell business. At least not in my experience. Can't see God. Usually can't see signs. Don't hear voices -- God's or otherwise. And yet . . . I want to believe. So I do and I look for evidence wherever I can.

Like the exhilarating rush of the wind in my face, blocking out all sound and transporting me to a five-year-old's sense of joy as I raced down a Smoky Mountain bike path only hours from boarding the plane . . .

And my friends' messages of concern as they learned of my potential fate and offered to step in and make whatever happened "better" . . .

And the strip of sunset we chased westward when we finally did get on that plane . . .

Hard evidence? Maybe not. But it's something.

No comments: