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A Dose of Reality in the Vegas Airport

I recently spoke at an association conference in British Columbia (Canada), and was coming back home through Vancouver. We boarded the connecting flight to Las Vegas right on time, only to sit in the airplane as a mechanic worked on one of the engines.

We sat there for over two and a half hours. When we finally took off and made the flight to Vegas, I missed my connection. I gave the ticket agent at US Airways my story, but there was nothing they could do except book me with another carrier early the next morning. (But I did get two meal vouchers in the deal.)

I was stuck in the Las Vegas airport from 1:00am until my flight at 6:45am. It wasn’t much fun.

So there I was, trying to sleep with my head resting on my luggage. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what was obviously a homeless person. She was dressed in several layers of clothes, and she shuffled along carrying two good-sized plastic bags.

She took a seat and reached into one of the bags for a large envelope. As I watched her out of the corner of a half-closed eye, she opened the envelope and looked through the contents. She then replaced the envelope into one of the bags.

I was snoozing lightly at this point. I was awakened by what seemed to be the sound of soft chuckling, laughter. I searched for the sound. It was the homeless lady, only she wasn’t chuckling; she was sobbing. She wiped at her eyes, grabbed her bags, and slowly walked off.

“If you’re homeless, there’s no place to go,” I whispered to no one in particular. I felt a sense of sorrow for her and her plight. But it also caused me to realize how minor my overnight residence at this airport really was.

She returned and again sat down. Again she took out the envelope, and again she sobbed softly. In fact, she sobbed herself to sleep.

I’ve spent time away from loved ones, once for two whole years, but I always knew there were a number of folks who loved me and cared about me and how I was doing. I cannot begin to fathom what it would be like to be completely alone, destitute, aged and probably sick.

And I don’t care to ever find out. Maybe, just maybe, this whole existential “detour” was intended to wake me up to smell the “coffee” of God, family, love and purpose.

It’s gotta be the best smell goin’.  Oh, I also learned something else.

Luggage makes a lousy pillow.

James Sutton, Psychologist

November 7, 2007 - Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Educators, family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thank-you for passing on such a powerful lesson. Yes, you were delayed for a reason. Great lesson! May we all always know love and family!


    Comment by tobeme | November 8, 2007 | Reply

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