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Flight Lost, Friendship Found

Ubiquitous clips of stranded airline travelers remind me of Lisa, a stranger’s flight emergency, and a friendship forged. My friend Lisa, her husband and their two elementary school-age children were on a flight destined for Mexico and stuck on the tarmac. To pass the time they chatted with senior citizen Jim in the window seat. Jim was distraught. His wife was terminally ill, and her condition had suddenly worsened. He was on what he thought was the first plane headed home.

After three hours, the plane returned to the gate. The passengers were directed to disembark and find another flight. There was no way to leave that day, so my friend and her family went home. The next morning at 6 a.m. they skidded along icy roads to return to the airport and placed themselves on the standby list for four seats. Ninety minutes later their name was called – exactly four seats had opened. My friend and her husband passed Jim on their way to the desk, exchanged a few words, and told the reservationist they were declining the opportunity and giving one of the open seats to Jim. They boarded a flight the next day.

Jim keeps in touch and takes Lisa and her family to dinner whenever he comes to Boston. The family has long since forgotten their lost vacation day. Jim never will.

Janet Parnes lives in Millis.

MetroWest Daily News
Feb. 21, 2010