In 2008, when I missed my plane leaving Little Rock, I didn't actually miss my plane.
Sure, they did run out of seats and ask for volunteers to stay behind, and I did put up my hand, but after a while, they came up with a seat for me. ...but I didn't want to leave.
"Sir, we have a seat for you," the ticket agent said.
"What? I thought the plane was overbooked."
"It is, but we have a seat for you."
"You can give it to someone else," I said.
"No no," she said, "we have a seat for you."
"I already have someone coming to pick me up." I don't want to leave.
"Sir, you can keep the coupon," she explained. (I had been offered a free flight for volunteering to stay behind.)
"It's not that," I said. I looked around. There was a lady. ...with a kid. "Give it to her."
"We have to go in order," she said, "but I'm sure we'll have a seat for her later."
I was about ready to give up, and I guess my gate attendant friend saw it. "Is there something wrong?"
I took a deep breath. "There's a girl here."
My new friend winced.
"I'd rather stay another day," I said.
She put up her hand. She shook her head. "We have to go in order," she said. "I can't bypass you. The computer..."
"I'm sorry," she said.
I nodded again.
"Who is she?" she asked.
"She is 'it,' but she doesn't know it."
I went on.
"She dropped me off at the curb and I kissed her goodbye."
She smiled. I continued.
"She wasn't expecting it. The kiss." I paused. "The kiss wasn't really appropriate, but I wanted her to know. Then she left."
She was still sort of smiling.
I sighed. "She obviously wasn't expecting it."
"I'm really sorry," she said.
I stood there in silence for what seemed like forever, but couldn't have been more than a few seconds.
"Isn't there something you can do?" I asked.
"Sir, the rules..." she said. "I'm sorry."
I nodded and tried to smile at her so she'd know I understood her position.
I stood there at the desk, waiting for my boarding pass. After a minute of tapping and typing, she handed me a printout. "Here's your coupon. Make sure to hang onto it. It's like cash."
"I'm sorry you missed your flight," she said, interrupting. She gave me a look that said 'ask no questions.'
I asked no questions. She handed me a plane ticket.
"You're rebooked for tomorrow at 3:15. The same flight."
"You're sure about this?" she asked. "About her?"
"I am. Very."
She looked back at her computer screen, then up at me once more. "Go, before there's another seat."
She nodded and smiled, then looked toward the woman with the child. "Mrs. Davis, we have seats for you and your daughter."
She looked at me one last time, urging me away, and then back at the young woman.
"You're in luck," the ticket agent said to her. "I guess someone thought something else was more important."