After a change in travel plans, I called the airline to see
if I could get on an earlier flight, but I had bought a “no changes allowed” ticket.
The airline representative told me, though, that the gate agent could let me
board an earlier flight, so I decided to go to the airport early to see if the I
could make the switch.
It was my birthday, and I thought that if the gate agent knew, it might help my cause. So, I bought a button that proclaimed Birthday Girl and pinned it to my coat.
I am happy to be alive and grateful for every birthday. I have
never lied about my age because every birthday reminds me how blessed I am and
gives me the opportunity to think of family members and friends who died young,
all those who did not reach my current age.
In the shuttle from the car rental agency to the airport
terminal, several people wished me happy birthday. A man across from me asked
me how old I was, which startled me since people don’t usually ask. I told him
I was sixty-eight, and he said, “You look great.”
I don’t know what sixty-eight is supposed to look like (or
act like, for that matter), but I appreciated the compliment.
The TSA agent looked at my birthday girl button and
checked my driver’s license before wishing me a happy birthday. “Just
checking?” I asked. “I didn’t want to be made a fool,” he said.
The surly cashier at the donut shop looked at my button and
asked, “Is it really your birthday?” I assured her it was. She broke out
in a big smile and wished me a happy birthday.
The birthday wishes continued as I walked through the
terminal to the gate, and it made me happy to think of the impact of one little
When I got to the gate, the monitor indicated that there
were fifty open seats on the earlier flight.
I approached the gate agent and explained my situation and
asked if she could help me. She said there was nothing she could do. I relayed
my conversation with the airline representative on the phone, but nothing—not even
knowing it was my birthday—softened her.
I wondered what had happened to this woman that prevented
her from doing this act of kindness. Had she just gotten some bad news? Was she
preoccupied with her own problems? Had someone said “no” to her that morning?
I understood that she was just doing her job, that she had
every right to deny my request, and so I walked away. I was sad for her and
prayed that she would find joy.
And I didn’t allow her surliness to impact my happiness. As I boarded my flight, the flight attendant said happy birthday and asked if I was thirty-nine. “I crossed over to forty this year,” I joked. Complimentary bubbly and extra cookies added to my birthday celebration.