6:00 AM Dulles Airport, Washington DC.
In addition to my four hours in the airport Marriott, United Airlines also provided me with the means to eat in the form of a fifteen-dollar food voucher. After I caught the shuttle to Dulles, checked-in, cleared security and found gate A-1 (an auspicious gate number if ever there was one) I had two hours to kill. If I’d had a notion the morning was going to flow smoothly I may have opted for another hour of blessed sleep. But I didn’t, and I arrived at my gate with time on my hands. So I went in search of food. That United Airlines food voucher was burning a hole in my pocket.
There’s not too much open at six o’clock in the morning at Dulles. That’s probably a good thing. My ability to make decisions has been vastly compromised by the past twenty-four hours. I had two choices. Breakfast at Cozi’s, or breakfast at Famiglia Pizzeria. I went for the pizza palace.
Everyone I’ve encountered during my unexpected diversion to the nation’s capital has been great, but I’ve never been convinced they had my back.
Until I met my young Hispanic waitress. I showed her my voucher and said, “I’ll have a bagel and cream cheese.”
“You know we no give change for those.”
“I thought as much.”
“You want anything else?”
I drew a blank.
“You want bottled water?”
“How about coffee?”
“Great idea.” Now I was getting into the groove. “Give me a little scrambled egg, too, please.”
“Orange juice, Miss?”
“Bring it on.”
And then I threw her a conspiratorial wink and said,
“And make that vegetable cream cheese.”
My grand total? Just under twelve dollars. Streamers and balloons fell from the ceiling as the waitress and I high-fived. (Ok. That didn’t really happen – but it would have been so cool.)
Sure, I could have had a blueberry muffin. I could have brought my total closer to the amount United gave me, but I didn’t want to appear greedy. Besides, the glorious scent of Victory filled the air. Or maybe it was the tank top I’ve been wearing for the past twenty-four hours. In any case, take that United Airlines! And keep the change.