Day 23 – Days of Elul

23 Elul 5775
by Nancy Silverman

I was seated on the airplane at the Baltimore Washington International airport awaiting takeoff and looking forward to my flight home. It had been a great visit to Annapolis, where I had met my new granddaughter Mae, for the first time, and was able to visit with my son Jesse and my daughter in law Sarah.

Suddenly a message came over the loudspeaker. There would be a 10 minute delay in takeoff due to a mechanical issue. No problem, I thought to myself, better safe than sorry. Twenty minutes later another message came over the loudspeaker: the mechanics were unable to fix the problem and everyone would need to disembark the airplane and book a new flight.

Immediately the passengers seated around me pulled out their cell phones and started looking for new fights. I, however, did not. My phone had died the previous day. I had taken it to the local Apple store, but the Genius there stated that it could not be repaired. I would have to buy a new phone. I had decided to wait until I got home to make that new cell phone purchase. Certainly, I thought, I could easily do without my cell phone for a brief 24 hour period.

I disembarked from the airplane and walked over to the bank of phones that were set up by the airline to connect directly with their flight reservation service. I was able to book a new flight home but now had to inform my husband Glenn about my delayed arrival time so he could pick me up.

What to do? There were no pay phone booths in sight. Yet almost everyone, I assumed, had a cell phone in his or her possession. I needed to borrow a phone! I decided to approach a female who was dressed in U.S. Army fatigues and was sitting on the floor next to an electrical outlet charging her own phone. Being part of the armed forces gave me some assurance as I approached this stranger.  After explaining my situation, she gladly handed me her charging phone. I made my call to my husband and thanked her.

An hour into a three hour wait for my rescheduled flight to depart, I realized I should inform my son Jesse about my change of flight plans so he wouldn’t panic if he saw that it had been canceled. My former helpmate in Army fatigues had already boarded her plane.   No more military personnel were in view. So I approached a group of three men who appeared to be in their early thirties and were conversing amicably with one another. It turned out that they had their own tale of a missed flight, due to a winter storm in Pennsylvania. They had rented a car and driven down to Baltimore in hopes of catching a flight from here. They too readily lent me a phone to make my call to Jesse.

Sitting in this airport alone, away from family and friends, with no means of connecting to them via telephone, I had been supported by two total strangers. Not only had they helped me by providing needed phone service, I had been able to engage and share stories with them that gave me a sense of comfort on a cold winter’s night in an airport 3000 miles from home.

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