THE GOOD SHEPHERD
SEATTLE-NYC Jet Blue left us in the airport all night. The counter simply didn't open, despite assurances from headquarters.
No flight to New York for you! And no rebooking, either. Everything's full and JB has no alliance partners to absorb the overflow.
No apology even.
Wooden, I stare into the middle distance. My makeshift companions a house painter in a yarmulke and a baby-faced army vet with a duffel of Christian books discuss biblical architecture. I could weigh in, having traveled that landscape, but religion makes me squirrely, especially at 5am.
The Jewish guy trawls the other airline counters, until he scores a reasonable last-minute ticket. "Bill Jet Blue. Promise me you'll bill Jet Blue," I mumble.
The vet's been on the phone for 40 minutes, at least. His cheek's turned so many times he has whiplash. "Look, only two of us are still here. Surely you can help," he coaxes.
And then: "You've found space on tonight's flight? That's great. Give the seat to this woman, Amanda. She's a journalist, trying to get to Italy for work. I'm only going on vacation."
I signal "no". He shoves the cell into my hand.
After the booking, I turn the tables. "Look, a stranger just ruined his trip for me. Can you get him out of Seattle today? Otherwise I may die of guilt."
And the airline, the overbooked, no-options airline, says "yes".
I shake the good shepherd's hand goodbye.
I want to thank him, not just for seat 22E, but for being a true Christian in a sea of hypocritical thumpers. Except that compliment might sound backhanded from an atheist. "Hey, I don't believe in your shtick, but good job with the brotherly charity!"
So I give him the only blessing I know.