I got off the plane in Calgary last night after a 4.5 hour flight from Ottawa and it felt good to stretch my legs. Even though I know my own airport well, I turned the wrong way when getting off the airplane. Instead of going to the baggage carousel I was inadvertently following the people in front of me who were looking for a connecting gate.
Stumbling along, very weary, I was haled by an Air Canada agent from a booth set up on the passageway, “Ma’am, would you like a bottle of water?” She held it out to me.
I hesitated. Nothing’s free. I was tired and wanted to see my grandkids who were waiting for me at the baggage carousel. What was she trying to sell me by trapping me with a freebie?
“Sure,” I said because I couldn’t think of a polite way of refusing.
“I know you,” said the second Air Canada agent standing beside the one who had given me water. I detected an English accent.
“I’m flying too much if agents are starting to recognize me, ” I thought.
“Really? Who am I?” I asked, so tired, I wasn’t sure myself. (I still didn’t know I was going the wrong way.)
“You’re Connie Cavanaugh. I heard you speak a couple of years ago at a hotel in downtown Calgary.” She was smiling so I assumed she liked my speaking. That was encouraging.
I remembered that event, in particular, having lunch with a British woman who later contacted me via email and told me more of her story. But that woman had returned to the UK so this couldn’t be her, could it? Not sure, I asked anyway.
“Are you V. A.?”
“No, but I know who she is.”
At this point, the agent who had proffered the drink handed me a promotional envelope with a savings coupon for a future flight and asked me what I did.
Free water. Ten percent off my next flight. Things were looking up!
“I speak at Christian events, mostly for women, all over the Canada and the US. I’m just coming back from Brockville now and am so tired I don’t even know who I am.”
“You’re just coming back?” she asked and I nodded. “Well, you say you don’t know who you are, but it looks like you don’t know where you are either. The baggage carousel is the other direction!”
We all burst out laughing.
“I’ve been to a lot of those events to hear speakers,” she continued. “Too many.”
“Why do you say too many?” I asked.
“It hasn’t done any good.” She went on to ask me if I knew various speakers and sundry events but sadly, I did not connect with any of them. Then she said she was Catholic and many of the speakers were priests, brothers, or Catholic laypeople.
“I grew up Catholic,” I said. “And my oldest sister still attends the church. Have you heard of Alpha?”
She had heard of it but had never attended.
“Alpha changed my sister’s life,” I said.
“How?” she asked.
“It was at Alpha that she heard about a personal relationship with Jesus.”
“Hmmm,” she replied.
“I happen to have a booklet in my carryon bag written by Nicky Gumble, the man who invented Alpha. Would you like to have it?”
“Yes,” she said.
I opened my bag and all I saw was a jumble of books, papers, chocolate wrappers (true confessions) and pens. My heart sank. Suddenly my hands found it even before my eyes saw it. I pulled it out.
“It’s called ‘Why Christmas’ I told her and it talks about knowing Jesus.” She accepted my gift and then repeated my name.
“Connie Cavanaugh. A good Irish name,” she said.
“If you can remember it,” I said, “Google my website and send me an email. I’d love to hear what you think about the booklet.”
She said she would.
“I’m glad I followed the crowd the wrong way, even though my mother always taught me not to, because it led me to you. It was a God thing,” I said as I turned to go back the way I had come.
Sometimes following the crowd can be a good thing.