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Leslie Jones: The Stranger I Kissed
Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

I updated a blog I posted last year so I could share it with you, because I just love this story so much! I flew to Ohio for my husband’s office Holiday Party. As I started writing the blog post, we began our initial descent into Cincinnati. The leg from Phoenix to Houston International Airport went smoothly. However, once we landed in Houston, things fell apart rapidly.

Four people needed wheelchair assistance once off the plane, including me. Only one showed up. The rest of us waited nearly 20 minutes. That’s not so bad, you say. Except all 3 of us had connecting flights, all leaving in less than an hour.

No big deal, right? The wheelchairs came, and we disembarked. Plenty of time to get to a new gate. Except that the trains running from terminal to terminal had stopped working. The crowds impatiently waiting for them to be fixed were staggering. The gentleman assigned to me tried to spread the word – both to passengers and other employees – that the trains might not start up again, but was largely ignored; primarily, I think, because no one had another solution. He told me that the breakdown occurred every year when the weather changed, and could take upwards of a day to be fixed.

This gentle giant was simple, with an IQ probably around 80. He was earnest, with a genuine desire to help. None of what happened was his fault, yet some frustrated passengers took out their ire on him. I could see him shrink in on himself each time.

“You’re doing everything you can,” I said, patting his hand. He took heart, and realized there was another route: downstairs, around past the hotel, into the terminal, and back around through security to reach the one remaining working train. Doing something seemed better than nothing, so I agreed to try it.

We made the trek and got in line for security. I was selected at random for additional checks. By that point, I literally had 4 minutes before they would close the doors and push back from the gate. I gave up, I admit it. I turned my mind instead toward finding an alternate flight. But Danny refused to give up. We made the trek all the way down to the gate. As we arrived, a woman was locking the doors behind her. Okay, I thought. We made a valiant effort. So be it.

“We’re not boarding yet,” she said. “It’ll be just a few minutes.”

Music to my ears, but confusing nonetheless. Turns out the flight had been delayed due to some sort of mechanical malfunction! What could have been the last straw in a series of comical misfortunes instead turned out to be a blessing. I turned to Danny.

“We made it,” I said, a big grin on my face.

He saw my smile and spontaneously bent over to hug me. I kissed his cheek and hugged him back. He’d never given up. He’d taken his charter seriously. And suddenly, we two human beings who’d never met and would never cross paths again shared a moment of total connection with one another.

The scent of his lotion stayed on my cheeks all through the flight from Houston to Cincinnati. Whenever I inhaled, I was reminded that grace can come from anywhere, in any form, at any time. I’m not talking about making the flight; that’s irrelevant to this story. This story is about Danny’s can-do attitude and generosity of spirit. I think I smiled the entire trip. Danny, you are one remarkable human being. Thank you.

I’d love to hear about your best (or worst) travel story. Won’t you share?


RITA® nominated and award-winning author Leslie Jones has been an IT geek, a graphics designer, and an Army intelligence officer. She’s lived in Alaska, Korea, Belgium, Germany, and other exotic locations (including New Jersey). She is a wife, mother, and full-time writer, and currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her books can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and HarperCollins Publishers.

Framed (Duty & Honor Book 4) will be available on February 28, 2017 from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and HarperCollins Publishers.

Catch up on the series with Night Hush, Bait, and Deep Cover.

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Leslie loves to connect with readers!

One comment to “Leslie Jones: The Stranger I Kissed”

  1. Michelle Gallegos
    · October 26th, 2016 at 10:03 am · Link

    Years ago, I was taking my children from Dallas to Pennsylvania to visit their grandparents. Kids were almost 4, 9 & 10. Youngest was covered in last of the scabs from chicken pox and got a big bruise on his forehead the night before we left so he looked a little rough. A train carrying chemicals derailed outside the airport in Harrisburg so our flight was cancelled. We were stuck in Chicago. I finally got us rerouted into Lancaster,Pa, then had to try to notify my parents (pre cell phone days) and wait an hour to get our luggage so I could get it on our new flight. On the puddle jumper plane we were on, my daughter got sick and threw up. Some man asked about my youngest, saying “Oh! That’s what chicken pox looks like!) Duh!!! Heading to the car, youngest tripped and skinned up his hands and knees. I told my mom to please defend me if anyone thinks he’s been abused! I swore to never travel with all three kids (and no husband to help) again! Worst trip ever!

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