A very common way of greeting someone unknown –
Hi! How’re you doing?
This takes me back to October’14, when I was flying back from a business trip in Charlotte. I was at the airport 5 hours ahead of my flight time, because I had to meet one of my friend, who was flying in that day from NJ. Well, she landed on time and we only had a short duration in between to hug each other and exchange few presents, before I had to board. While we were crossing the terminals (we’d run back to take food from the main terminal), walking towards my gate, they’d actually announced a change in the gate number which I never heard. This led to my first miss of itinerary.
So, I waited until the next flight, which already had a long queue of on-hold passengers. But, I convinced the officer to let me board explaining my situation and the flight was a great one as here’s where the story began…
I was pretty nervous about not making it on time to catch my connecting flight and also the current flight was delayed by 1/2 hour. There, I met my first lesson – Michael (from Missouri). He noticed my restlessness and out of curiosity just asked – “How’re you doing?”
Being an emotionally extrovert person as I am – “Not so good. I have another flight to catch from Dulles and this flight is just not flying yet.” He smiled and started having a relaxing conversation with me. There he suggested me an option –
“Forget collecting your baggage from Dulles and just board your next flight. Once you reach Doha, just give Qatar a call and say that your luggage didn’t come. They’ll send it on the next flight.”
Once we reached Dulles, a Qatar personnel stopped quite a few of us stating that our luggage will be coming right away. What she missed out on stating was that; they were the hand checked baggage! So, I ran to get my luggage (forgetting what Michael had told me) and by the time I reached the Qatar counter, there was only one lady present, to tell me – “The flight is closed!”
Lesson Learnt: At times, it’s good to not panic and take other’s suggestions!
Part 2 of this experience involves, meeting a Pakistani. Since I was stuck in Dulles until next day’s same flight, I had to visit the Qatar office, to make my reservation for the same. There was the girl (Zuni) who was talking very bluntly with me until she realized that I’m an Indian and she said “Namaste” with a smile. She then helped me book a ticket (told me to pay by card, the next day at the counter), make a discounted reservation for the night stay and arrange for a shuttle to take me to the hotel. There, she also made me an offer –
“Why don’t you just carry your clothes for the night along with other important things and leave behind the rest here, until you come back tomorrow for the flight.”
I bought that option and left for the hotel. When I called back a person from my office, informing about the situation, I was asked a question – “Was she looking trust worthy and wearing an uniform?”
Even though my answer was Yes, I was haunted by the absurd thoughts of what could go wrong with my baggage, for the rest of the night…
Part 3 is the best one as here’s where I met the most influential person of this experience – Zalfa.
After checking out the next day, I had no other option than wait in the lobby since my flight was not until 10:30 PM that night. While watching TV there, a lady passes by me and sits on the empty sofa by my side. And then she asks me the question with a smile –
How’s your day been?
My response was a true one – “not so good”. Her reply was “Don’t worry! You’ll be fine.”
I thought that she’s not understanding my situation; I’m not able to go home… Then our conversations began and she asked how I got stuck there. I re-iterated my story from the beginning. Then I asked her the same question, and the answer I got made me realize that, I’m going through Nothing!
I’m from Syria and I can’t go home!
Our conversation continued and went till the personal level…By now, she knew that I am the only child of my parents and the fact that I’m not into the normal factors of getting married and having a child, despite having a guy back home.
There, she shared some of her experiences, where in she’d had 3 failed marriages for dropping her baby without her husband’s consent (because she thought, it’s her body and hence, her wish) and how she feels now, that her decision was wrong. She explained me the importance, need and beauty of marriage. She talked about the love of a baby (your own as well as adopted). We talked for about 5 hours, until I had to go to the airport to collect my luggage and start back home.
By the time I was on the flight, with all my luggage’s securely checked in (they were as I’d left them last night), I had new ways of looking at things. I landed back home with a changed me!
The Good: No harm came my way, as could have on a foreign land. Instead, the whole incident changed my thought process on a lot of things!
The Bad: You will ALWAYS take stupid and wrong decisions with an uncool mind. I faced my consequences of missing the first flight, just because I had to get food 🙂
The Reality: Strangers can leave larger impact than your own! You are not the only one having a bad day!