Dozens of travelers hustled between airport gates. A lone business traveler sat at the end of a bar and barked at his wife on a cell phone. The bartender, trying not to eavesdrop, couldn’t help but hear every word. The man, red faced, was obviously agitated as he berated his spouse.
“Don’t know I’m at work?!? I’ll deal with that when I’m home! You know it’s your job is to deal with the kids.”
The bartender grimaced when he heard, “You know it’s your job,” and just glared at the business traveler. What a jerk.
The traveler hung up the phone and said, “What are you looking at?”
The bartender sarcastically said, “Not much.” He continued to wipe down the counter. People normally didn’t drink this early in the day. But this traveler did.
“Want to hear a story?” the bartender said.
“No.” the traveler continued to drink his beer.
“See that man over there? His name is Todd,” the bartender continued anyway.
The man looked over his shoulder and saw a hunched over worker picking up garbage in the gate.
He was once like you.
The business traveler could hardly believe that. “Um, right.”
The bartender continued,”He came out here in 1985 and put his family on the plane. You know, a family like yours. Stood in the observation area and watched his family take off. At that moment he realized they were all he had.”
The traveler was still unimpressed, “What’s your point?”
“They never made it home. That plane, a Delta Lockheed TriStar, crashed in a storm in Dallas. Wiped out his wife and three kids. Took everything from him. Needless to say, he went insane. He came back to the airport everyday waiting for the plane to come back. It never did. But he did. Day after day. After 9/11, the airport gave him a job cleaning that gate so he could get past security. That’s the gate they left from.
“Look, it’s not my business how you deal with your family. But learn from our friend Todd. I don’t know what you are worth, but your family is all you have. And you don’t seem to realize that.”
The traveler put his beer down and looked at his watch. He put a $20 down on the wood and said, “Thanks. I have a flight to change. I need to get home.”
The bartender nodded and looked as the traveler approached Todd. He put his arm around the man and passed along his condolences. And he could see a small tear running down the old man’s face.
“We take life’s true treasures for granted,” the bartender thought as he wiped down the bar. “There truly are no guarantees.”