Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Denied Boarding"

Sitting in the Vancouver airport this afternoon waiting to get to Victoria for a couple of days' work I could tell that everything was moving from one "situation" to another. The centre of the far gate area was filled with security and police officers while off to a corner men were getting searched over their loud protestations of innocence. If a person happened to venture into that area inadvertently a burly policeman would step forward and politely ask if he could help. Flight after flight was either delayed or cancelled. "Some bad weather but a lot of mechanical difficulty," was the official word.  

And - of all days - no one was not showing up, something all airlines count on when they routinely overbook their flights. Eventually the call came for a volunteer - and it was for my flight. Volunteers would get a $200 travel voucher for anywhere Air Canada flies, plus a small food voucher.

Why not? I thought to myself. I have no plans for this evening. I can work and read and think just as well in the airport as I can in my hotel room.

So I went to the desk and volunteered. The little man desperate to get on the flight thanked me profusely again and again.

I checked out the voucher - good for a year - and noticed that the reason listed was "DENIED BOARDING." I wondered, with the slightly negative connotation of those words, whether I should start feeling sorry for myself or something ...

I went and ate dinner, read a couple of chapters from my book and then had a little snooze. Finally I wandered down to the gate, and as I was doing so a call came out for a volunteer - for my new flight!

Is this possible? I thought to myself. Four hundred dollars is 25 per cent of my ticket to India! I went over to the desk and somewhat sheepishly volunteered again.

"What are you going to do with all this money?" teased the agent who had written up my first voucher.

"Put it toward my trip to India next year," I responded, at exactly the same time as the other agent said that another passenger had volunteered just before I had.

I turned to see a man with a very kind face. "I'll forgo so that she can get to India," he offered. Then he looked at me and said, "I've been to Nepal but I didn't make it to India. I've always wanted to go ... North India is what draws me."

The kindness of strangers never fails to move me. The chapter in the book I'm reading talks about being gentle with our fellow pilgrims. Here was a real-time illustration of how to help someone else, of how to be.

It turned out that at the time the flight was being boarded another volunteer was needed, and so he too got a voucher; this time they threw in a pass to the Maple Leaf Lounge as well.

Thank you, Mr Harrison, whoever you are. I hope that some day you make it to the Land of the Lotus Flower!
It turns out that there's a conclusion to this story ... http://nilgiristeahouse.blogspot.com/2011/09/but-wait-theres-more.html


  1. What a strange and lovely story

  2. God provides in such amazing ways:). Sometimes all we think about is how much extra work we'll need to do to get the money, then God does something extraordinary. I love these stories of God's provision. Not just for needs, but for wants:). Hope you have a great rest of the week!

  3. You make me cry - and inspire me with kindness! Thank you for telling this story!

  4. sweet serendipity! gracious kindnesses exchanged, and great foresight on your part. Love it.

  5. Wow, Karyn, when I read "denied boarding" I thought you must have been too late for your flight, and that it was my fault for staying so long for coffee. So glad that wasn't the case. Awesome you got those vouchers!

  6. Can't wait to see you next year Aunty Karyn. I'm wishing away the days til you come.
    Love, Chloe


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