The news report I was listening to said it was going to be the busiest airport travel period in U.S. history. I shrugged my shoulders in response and said, “What can you do?” That was before I left. Now, I was in Tulsa International Airport with lots of other people. It was a lot worse than I had imagined.
It was worse because flights from Dallas had been diverted to Tulsa due to weather. And there is a huge difference in capacity between the two airports. The concrete in the Dallas airport infrastructure is enough to build a high capacity freeway from coast to coast across the United States, while the airport in Tulsa is small, with two short concourses. Capacity on these busy travel days after Christmas was stretched, to say the least.
The other issue was the capacity of the plane I was hoping to get on. It was a small 90-seat regional jet. When I looked at all of the people huddled around the gate, it was clear it had been over sold — by a lot. I was not surprised when I was not assigned a seat.
“Oh well, I guess it’s time to find a hotel for the night,” I said and pulled out my phone to make a reservation.
I made a reservation for a ride share on Lyft. After sitting around for a couple of hours, I was surprised to have my request almost instantaneously filled.
I quickly gathered my things and hustled down the concourse to meet Victor Porter, my driver.
Victor greeted me with a warm, friendly smile, and helped me load my baggage into his car. He even cheered me by playing music performed by one of my favorite artists while his caring manner washed the stress of the airport away.
“How nice,” I said to myself as I relaxed in the warmth and comfort of his car. “I’ll get some dinner and then rest, so I can get through another difficult travel day tomorrow.”
That’s when it hit me.
In my rush to meet Victor, I had left something at the airline’s gate.
“Victor, what do we need to do to adjust our trip to go back to the airport?” I asked. “I seem to have left a valuable item at the gate.”
“Not to worry,” he said with a smile. “I’ll simply end this trip and take you back there and then to your hotel without charge. I do this to give back and make a difference in people’s lives.”
“I’ll surely pay you!” I responded. “I’m just grateful for your help!”
We arrived back to where we started in a few minutes. Victor patiently waited for me at the curb as promised, while a kind ticket counter agent walked back to the gate to find my small package.
“I needed to go for a walk anyway! So, you were really helping me!” said Grettel Loney, the gate agent whose name I’ll never forget.
Victor gave me a ride to my hotel and offered to pick me up the next morning at 6:30 a.m. to get me to my next flight on time.
The next morning, a different news report said it was going to be the busiest airport travel period in history. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “No big deal. Victor is here to pick me up!”
I slid back into his welcoming car and was on my way back to Tulsa International Airport with lots of other people. It was a lot better than I had imagined it would be.
After all, I never imagined I’d meet two Christmas Angels in Oklahoma at Tulsa International Airport.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.