Holding on for Dear Life

What a sinking feeling it was to realize I had lost my iPhone.   Being away on business yesterday, my morning in the hotel room was filled things to be grateful for like getting to sleep later than usual, room service breakfast in the room, leisurely having some time to write and catch up on news on the internet.  

My mood was fabulous as I checked out and met my two associates in the hotel lobby.  We drove to the airport, dropped off a rental car and said our goodbyes before heading to the gates for flights to our individual home cities.  A short while later just after making it through security I was putting things back into my pockets when I realized I did not have my phone.  Oh, crap!  Where could it be?  I frantically looked around the security area.  A helpful security agent ran my computer bag through the scanner again to see if I hide it from myself inside.  All the while my mind is bouncing around thinking about the loss of photos and data, the process of setting up a new phone and all the numbers not included in a backup made months before. 

Slowly logic and reason returned as I focused myself on the mystery of my missing iPhone.  I was able to remember entering a phone number on the way to the airport and began to think through where I might have lost it.  Did I leave my phone at the kiosk when I was checking in?  Did I put it down on some airport seating where I stopped to clean out my pockets just before security?  

Mentally working back to where I knew I last had my phone, I hurriedly reversed direction.  Walking as fast as I could out of the security area and down the concourse I soon was outside the airport and walking up to the rental car return area.  I asked if an iPhone had been found and the young woman who had checked the car in quickly went to ask the clean up crew.  I convinced myself I was going to have to get a new phone upon arriving home.   I was lost in thought about which one I was going to get when the rental car agent came running toward me, smiling and waving my phone in the air.  Being a sweating mess from hauling butt through the airport was quickly forgotten as the happiness about my found phone overtook me.  As I walked back into the airport I was felt blessed and lucky and made a mental note to keep closer tabs on my phone! 

On boarding my flight a short while later I found my seat was in the very last row of a completely full airplane.  My assigned aisle seat was next to a young woman who appeared to be in her early to mid twenties.  She was a tiny little thing and looked to be about five feet tall at best.  As the man in the window seat made conversation with her I focused on my book, but noticed she spoke with accented, but good English.  As the plane taxied to the runway she got her Walkman ready.  Once in the air the young woman disappeared with closed eyes into her music whose beat I could hear faintly.  She squirmed a bit and seemed to have difficulty getting comfortable for the next hour and a half.  A while later I found out why. 

Two hundred miles from Denver the pilot announced very high winds were limiting the number of runways in use at theDenverairport.  He said our arrival would be delayed and the last part of our ride was going to be very bumpy.  Soon the turbulence got worse and worse and in our holding pattern it was as bad as I ever remember.  The young woman beside me was very scared and getting more agitated with each big shimmy and bounce of the airplane.  The 30-something buy in the window seat was talking and trying to calm her, but her fear was growing fast as beads of sweat began to run down her face.  On her face was pure fear. 

The first I spoke to the young woman was to tell her that everything would be OK, that I was a small plane pilot who had lived and flown in the Denver area.  I had encountered turbulence like this before in my plane (even though 25 years earlier, that was true).  I told her I knew from experience that what was occurring was uncomfortable, but we were safe.  On one particularly rough bump she grabbed my left hand and gripped it tightly with her right hand.  She was holding on for dear life and did not let go until after we had landed.  For 20 minutes not only was she gripping my hand with her right, but her left hand was holding on tightly to my arm as she leaned against me.  From time to time I continued to talk to calm her, saying everything was going to be fine.  Just as we landed the plane bounced around quite a bit and I though she was going to break my hand her grip was so tight.

There is not a time I can remember encountering someone more fearful that this young woman was.  Only when we were on the ground did she began to talk to me.  She was so grateful to me and was gushing with gratitude.  She kept apologizing that flying scared her so much and thanking me for helping her.  I learned her name was Gabriella and she was from a country that was formerly a part of the USSR.  With her accented but very well spoken English we made conversation as we taxied.  She told me she was a Master’s Degree student headed to Chicago to see a friend (a boyfriend I think).  Her flight connection was tight and others like her were allowed off the plane first.  We hurriedly said our goodbyes and in just a matter of moments another “temporary friend” was lost into the sea of humanity.  

As I walked up the jet-way I was struck by how much helping another enriches one’s life.  For the rest of my trip it seemed everyone was nicer than usual to me, yet I know it was largely my frame of mind being reflected back to me.  I felt joyful and the sense of it continues within today.  It began with finding my phone when I was certain it was permanently lost and continued with helping a frightened young woman.  I doubt either of us will ever forget the other for the rest of our days. 

What I experienced yesterday were little things certainly, but the type of happenings that enhance life and give it little splashes of color that make living worthwhile.  I am thankful for the experiences, but to an even greater degree I am grateful for the awareness that allows me to notice such abundant richness in my life.     

For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude.  Unknown

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