Wearing a comfy sweater and a baseball cap (to hide a bad hair day), I sat quietly at a counter in a Houston airport during Sunday’s predawn layover. Even though I didn’t sleep a wink on my California red-eye flight into Texas, I was wide awake when a short, elderly man approached me with a look of concern.
Right away, he began to speak non-stop in Spanish. My head began to spin. “I’m sorry. No comprende Espanol. Muy poquito Espanol,” I apologized, recalling a splattering of words from my two years of the language eons ago in high school. My attempt to explain didn’t faze him; the spirited traveler began to wave his boarding passes in front of me, while also pointing at a nearby older woman, whom I assumed was his wife.
He’d mistaken me as an airport employee, I thought. After all, I was sitting close to the airline’s terminal desk, which was unoccupied at the moment due to the early morning hour. I sensed the man was asking for help. He was lost.
“Can I see your boarding passes?” I asked, extending my hand. He and his wife, I discovered, were flying to Omaha, yet there was no mention of the Nebraska city on the airline’s gate displays. “I’m sorry, but Omaha doesn’t seem to departing out of Terminal B,” I said, trying to at least give my English a Spanish accent.
A woman sitting two chairs away piped up: “Excuse me, but I overheard your conversation; I can check the airline app on my phone and confirm his gate,” she offered. Sure enough, Omaha was departing out of Terminal C and not B. Then, I spotted an airport employee in the distance and relayed the situation. Within minutes, a translator appeared, followed by more airport staff and an electric cart. No less than ten people had come to the elderly couple’s aid.
Just before the cart drove away to take them to their appropriate terminal and gate, the man looked at me and said, “Gracias! Gracias!”
Meanwhile, his adorable wife hugged my neck and whispered, “Feliz Navidad!”
That entire scene at the airport made me feel plane good inside!
Love and light and Happy Holidays,