msp on dec 24: the metropolitan area is recovering from a mean winter storm and the concourse on the way to my gate is a jolly refugee camp strung together with red airport-issued mats.
In a seat facing the window between gate 18 and gate 17, I settle in for my own warm winter’s delay.
Behind me is a woman on standby for the flight that’s loaded and ready to depart from gate 17.
“Can I get on now?”
“No, it’s still his seat. I’m not going to give you his seat while he still has a chance to make his flight.”
From the jetway, “can I close the door now?”
Firmly, “no, catering is still on and his plane could move any minute.”
She motions to the gate next door where I see a plane sitting on the tarmac waiting for god knows what — reindeer? — to pull it to the gate just a few feet from where the seat’s rightful owner needs to be next.
I’m riveted on this Christmas Eve horse race now.
I look left. The plane is moving! The door at gate 18 opens and people push their way out. O come all ye faithful! A tall dark-skinned man is running now, boarding pass waving in his outstretched hand.
I prepare for the joyful noise he’s about to receive.
“I’m sorry sir, you’ve been re-ticketed — go back to the gate, they’ll take care of you.”
I look right. The woman is gone. The accordian walkway retracts as the plane at gate 17 is pushed back.
Though disappointed for the close but no candy cane traveler, my heart is gladdened by the gate angel. She gave him every possible chance on a day when it would have been much easier to write him off, close the door and be done with it.
And then — with a blink of an eye, she moved on.