NEW YORK (Nov. 28)—A Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I am especially thankful for the blessings of the Lord for health, for family, for friendship and for meeting new friends along the way this year.
During a recent flight from New York to London, I was dreading the long journey across “the pond,” especially because I knew the flight bookings were pretty heavy, and it would be unlikely the center seat in economy class would be vacant to afford a little extra leg room on the seven-hour journey to the “mother country.”
Following a long wait at the airport—albeit a productive one, as I was connecting from Washington, D.C., and used the time to catch up on some work—I joined the queue and boarded the flight, which was packed to the gills in most sections.
Upon boarding, I glanced at my vacant window seat and saw two reasonably well-built gentlemen sitting in the center seat and aisle seats, respectively, in the three-seat configuration. As I no longer go by the alias “Bony Bevan from Barbados,” it was not comfortable contemplating, being cramped for several hours, especially because the overhead compartments were full and putting my luggage under the seat would only limit my mobility.
However, the spirit of humanity was apparent as the gentlemen, one African and the other English, aided me in my search to find a compartment on the plane for my carry-on luggage.
With the help of a flight attendant, we were successful and settled into what was actually American Airlines’ Main Cabin Extra section, so we were in great shape. What ensued as we traveled across the pond was simply remarkable. I enjoyed an incredibly educational conversation with my center seatmate, a retired corporate executive who was returning to Sierra Leone for a few days with some American colleagues to explore investment opportunities.
He also had an ulterior motive—he was on an end-of-year “mileage run,” having just returned from Kenya the previous week, and was on a mission to maintain his Executive Platinum status on American Airlines before the end of the year.
From politics to business to the airline industry to retirement, it was a blessed conversation with an elder who reminded me much of the seniors—past and present—in my extended Caribbean family. Our time together underscored the familial and cultural commonalities of Caribbean people and those of the “motherland.”
As we landed at Heathrow, we exchanged cards and bade each other farewell, but not before I recalled, while now on the ramp, leaving one of my two bags on board the aircraft. True to the form of a caring elder, his level of concern surpassed mine; we parted ways as I rushed back to the airplane to retrieve my bag from security personnel.
As it was handed over to me, I gave thanks once again to the Lord for traveling mercies.
I then proceeded toward immigration, with fond memories of this man from Africa whose light no doubt continues to shine and inspire others across his journey from America to Europe to Africa and back.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!