Friday, April 20, 2007

Long-Term Memory

As I was checking into the airport this morning I walked up to the Delta ticket counter and, before I could say a word, the woman working behind the counter glanced down at her computer and then said, “So, you’re flying to Richmond this morning?”

Now, I fly out of our airport a lot and so I wasn’t so surprised that she knew me, but still, I thought it was pretty cool. “Yes,” I said. “Now that’s what I call service.”

“Oh, we know you here,” she said. I was feeling pretty flattered about then, frequent flyer that I am. Gold Medallion frequent flyer. Oh yeah.

Then she added, “You were mean to me once.”

My heart squirmed inside my chest. “I did? When was that?”

She typed away at her keyboard, avoided looking at me. “You were flying out with your wife and you were trying to use your frequent flyer miles.”

I felt sick. I knew immediately what she was talking about. About a year and a half ago Liesl and I were going to a marriage conference and were trying to fly out together on the same plane. There was some confusion about the frequent flyer miles, or the flight that I was allowed to use them on or something, and I was frustrated. At the time I was struggling with depression, our marriage was on the rocks and, quite honestly, we were going to the conference as a last resort to see if we would actually be able to work through some of our issues.

“That was a year and a half ago,” I said.

“Oh, you’d be surprised what I remember.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I apologize.”

“It’s alright,” she said.

“No, I can’t tell you how sorry I am for treating you rudely.”

“Well,” she said, “you come in here a lot and I’ve been watching you since then.”


And then she said, “You seem a lot more at peace.” When I told her my wife and I were going through a tough time back then, she nodded. “I understand.” Then she told me about her struggles—her father died last year and her husband was just diagnosed with cancer. They would be heading to the hospital together in a week.

“You’d be surprised what I remember,” she told me this morning. “I’ve been watching you a lot since then.”

I felt a little weird saying it after finding out how I’d offended her, but I said. “I’ll pray for you and your husband.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I appreciate that.”

Then I headed to the airplane and she went back to work. And both of us were a little more human than we’d been before.

“You’d be surprised how much I remember,” she said.

I just hope she remembers today.

I know I will.

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