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7/23/06

Dear Kim:

There is grace. There is grace all around. And in the most unlikely places.

I arrived at the airport today on time, only to find that I had missed my flight because I had mistaken the carrier. I thought I was taking Travelocity that had listed a flight at 1:49 pm and then realized I had booked through Priceline instead for a flight that left at 10 a.m.

By the time I realized I had to fly back to New York today, the fares had gone up astronomically and I spent several hours comparison shopping in line.

That is probably how the mistake happened.

But wow. I have never made a mistake about a departure time in all my years of traveling.

Have you?

(Kim: Linda and I got to the airport early and they said that we could give up our ticket and go standby on an earlier flight. I thought that made sense, so I said yes. Then the weather turned and something happened to the flight...so it looked like we would have to spend the night at the airport. Linda was furious. I felt that I have committed some immoral sin.

I went to the agent and use every ounce of persuasion that I had. The agent felt something...and restored our ticket and our marriage survives. (In fact, we bought a diamond for an engagement right that Linda is making.)

I went dizzy with panic and then drew a few deep beautiful breaths—I love breathing—and tried to calm down

The ticket agent, a veteran of some 20 years with the airline, could not have been more helpful. He actually invited me to join him behind the counter and call Visa to try to track down the date I charged the ticket so we could determine the carrier. He waited patiently as the recorded voice ran through the usual litany of press one for this and two for that.

When the snafu became apparent, a snafu for which I was entirely responsible, instead of evoking airline rules, he worked to book me on the next flight without any charge.

I could have wept for gratitude., Well, the fact is, I did. And I asked for the name of his supervisor so he could be especially thanked.

I called his supervisor from the gate, explained that I was recovering from surgery as well as worried about possible swelling in my arm from my breast cancer related lymphadema. That I was overly tired and not on top of my game. That I did not know what I would have done if a wonderful flight reservationist named Jim Vokerst had not been so helpful.

He in turn told me that his wife was being treated for lung cancer and he knew how stressful travel could be.

Then we talked radiologists and the Siteman Cancer Center and the Komen Race for the Cure. It was lovely.

(Kim: Did you do the Race? I was there with Melissa and two others. It was a beautiful day/event.)

And I was struck how, in the middle of a teeming terminal, in which travel is increasingly stressful for everyone, airline workers as well as travelers, these two men were so kind.

As I write, I am sitting at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, waiting for my next flight and feeling like a lucky, if tired, duck.

Later,

Joan

Tuesday, June 13, 2006