Several years ago I had a job where I traveled throughout the week around the U.S. I was given the location of my first assignment for the week over the weekend since I would leave on Sunday. Unfortunately I wouldn’t learn of the second location until I was well into the trip thus making the task of packing very challenging depending on the season. I was traveling in January on this particular trip so I came prepared for the worst winter weather possible. After all, I had been to freezing Wisconsin the previous week. My first assignment was in Phoenix, Arizona so even my sweater dress seemed overly warm. Instead of jet-setting to frigid temperatures on the second half of the week, I was returned to sunny and warm Orange County where I lived at that time.
My flight home was scheduled for 7ish and I had a few hours to enjoy before heading to the airport. Since I have always been an avid traveler, I was happy to have the opportunity to spend the afternoon in Tempe where I had hoped to enjoy Tempe Beach Park and the Mill Avenue District. I made it as far as the park where I took a long walk with a new friend and shared life experiences. My long afternoon was nearly over and I now headed to the airport car return. I followed the simple signs marked, “Car Return” until they suddenly vanished. I am not one to lose my way but honestly I had lost my proverbial breadcrumbs. I circled around attempting to get back on track, even stopping once for directions before I was detained at a train crossing. The train seemed to take an eternity to pass and to make matters worse, it actually stopped on the tracks. I was now in jeopardy of missing my flight and was furious about this. Magically, I immediately found the car return after the train finally passed and hopped on the shuttle to the airport.
Upon arriving at the terminal, I bolted through with my both of my carry-ons, attempting to check in before the cut off. My luck had run out and they were boarding the plane already so I had no choice but to take a later flight. A large vanilla waffle cone and an hour long phone conversation with my cousin made me feel slightly better. Seconds later I looked up to see that my plane was boarding and I jumped into the line for fear of missing this flight too.
Now you have to visualize just how much stuff I was lugging around. I had my carry-on luggage, my rolling case that housed a computer and portable printer plus my purse and a big brown parka. I stuffed my parka and other belongings in the overhead storage bin and then asked the nice looking gentleman in the aisle seat to move so that I could slip into my window seat. I wasn’t seated for more than 5 minutes before I realized I had to use the restroom. That same gentleman was kind enough to let me slip by again. It wasn’t long before he and I were chatting like old friends which was odd for me as I had no interest in men or dating since I had left my husband some six months earlier. He bought me a drink from the beverage cart and somehow that led to an exchange of business cards and a trip to the Nixon Library a few days later. It’s interesting to note that he usually never flies that airline we were on but had no choice that evening. As for me, I was booked on an earlier flight that I missed thanks to a series of unfortunate events. Fate forced this “chance” meeting.
As we left the plane I asked him to reach up in the overhead bin and to grab my coat. He asked what he should be looking for and I described my brown parka. The face on his priceless. It wasn’t until later that he explained he had seen a lady with a brown parka get on board and he laughed hard at the thought of someone traveling in warm Phoenix with that jacket. He was so distracted by the parka that he hadn’t notice who was carrying it. Turns out it was me! Shortly after he wrote a song about me and that brown parka. How’s that for a budding romance?