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?”

“Yeah.”

“How about coffee?”

“Great idea.”  Now I was getting into the groove.  “Give me a little scrambled egg, too, please.”

She smiled.

“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.

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