Mary Anne Fairlie: Airport hospitality
April 19, 2012
It's mud season, and it's spring break. Like many fellow 'Boaters, it's time for me to get out of Steamboat. For me, it was an opportunity to see family in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. I arrived at the airport at 5:30 a.m. to discover that when a well-meaning family member transferred baggage from one car to another, the pertinent pack with my wallet did not make the switch.
With a helpful "Everything happens for a reason" from a ticket agent, I was sent to get the definitive "no" from the TSA agent. My ride returned with my wallet, but the gate was closed. I returned to the ticket counter with my plans looking like a mirage vanishing before my eyes. Two ticket agents entered information, and the computer said "wrong code this" and "error that." I was told it was a new system, and there were different procedures because of the United/Continental merger. I listened to the agents talk in code as they unraveled the mysteries of their new system. I heard them finishing each other's sentences as they first tried one strategy and then another. I wondered how long they had worked together to have such camaraderie. I marveled at their resolve to find the best outcome for me.
The best outcome was a flight the next day (that I was thrilled to get). Meanwhile, my options for a ride back to Steamboat were a noon ride from a family member or a noon Go Alpine shuttle ride. I settled in at 3 Wire Bar and Grill. The waitress arrived and offered me a coffee before she took off her coat. The airport manager stopped by — he had heard I may not have a wallet — and asked if I needed coffee or something to eat. He would see if someone was getting off a shift and heading to Steamboat.
A woman from the business office stopped by and asked about my knitting and even complimented the stitching in my first-ever project — a scarf I've been working on for months. She may have a book in her office that I could read. At 11:30 a.m., the ticket agent came by and said she was off soon if I needed a ride.
I grew up in New York, where there are nice people, too, but you learn not to take it for granted. Help may be given, but when it's given with grace, it is a true gift. I was special at Yampa Valley Regional Airport that day. I was just one human in the midst of the best of humanity. I can't think of a better way to start my vacation.
Mary Anne Fairlie