The days when companies few their exec First Class are long gone-- at least in my universe, but I am grateful for one particular First Class flight from Milan, Italy to Los Angeles more than 20 years ago.
After two grueling weeks at a major business gathering located inside what looked like a bomb shelter-type bunker, with no windows and sometimes, it seemed, no air, I was ready to fly back to Los Angeles and sleep in my own bed. I was exhausted and looked it.
My flight was one of those early morning ones, where you had to be up at the ungodly hour of 4am, to get to the airport in time for the three hour check in procedure, even though you could cut to the chase and enter the First Class Club for this airline and speed through the process in 30 minutes.
I'd dragged my sorry self out of the very warm but uncomfortable hotel bed, threw on a big sweater, leggings and a pair of red sneakers. (Yes, leggings-- It was the late 80s.) My hair was pulled in a ponytail and the only make-up I wore was lipstick-- Not my usual professional attire but I was exhausted. Leaving a day early from the conference, I felt fairly confident I wouldn't be running into any business associates looking like a tired tiny-bopper. Plus, at that hour of the morning, I didn't really care.
When I arrived at the airport, it was surprisingly empty. Sure it was still dawn, but it was a ghost town in there. As I made my way to the First Class Club, I hoped it wasn't too crowded either so I could stretch out on a sofa and wait the 2 1/2 hours before our flight.
The First Class Club was waiting for us. Uh-oh.... The airline knew they had mistakenly confirmed the wrong flight time to about a dozen First Class passengers the day before. They were sorry about the mistake, but we were at the airport 8 1/2 hours before the scheduled departure time. I nearly wept.
I was traveling with a co-worker, Harvey, who took it all in stride. Me? Not so happy. So we got some danish and juice from the buffet and parked on the far side of the room, well away from all the other unhappy passengers.
As I bitched to Harvey about the delay, a man walked into the Club and I instantly knew, without a doubt, that my life had just changed forever. I froze and stopped talking mid-sentence to stare. I had no idea who he was or what just happened. All I could do was pray-- Please god let him be American!
No, it was not love at first sight or even lust for that matter. It was nothing like that. It was a strange, make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, kind of overwhelming feeling that life as I knew it was going to be totally different from that moment forward. My brain raced trying to piece my feelings and emotions together.
I was not the kind of girl that ever swooned over guys or longed for a man to call my own. Nor did I need or desire to be "married with children". That was all the furthest thing from this focused, career woman's mind. I had my eye on a corner office not a white picket fence. So what the hell was happening?
Harvey followed my stunned gaze to the man across the room. Lucky for me, he knew the mystery man and invited him to join us. Dear Harvey was a seasoned salesman and chatted him up, which was a good thing, since I was still trying to regain my composure. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before and let me tell you-- I was freaking out inside!
After a short while, the receptionist came over with good news. The airline was taking us off the airport grounds for lunch. Okay with me, I thought, as long as the mystery man goes. I'd follow him anywhere.
About ten of us rode a big, fancy, luxury bus out into the country, to a gorgeous villa, where we were fed mountains of food and endless wine. The three of us sat together, and all through the meal, Harvey was asking probing questions to find out if mystery man was single or married. Try as he may, mystery man pretty much stuck to business chatter and we knew little about his personal life when we left the villa to return to the airport.
When we finally boarded the plane, mystery man was four rows behind use so I asked-- okay I shamelessly begged, Harvey to get to the bottom of his "availability" while I slept. I was blurry-eyed by this point (no thanks to drinking wine at 9am) and wanted to catch a nap. Harvey agreed and I was asleep before the plane took off.
The next thing I knew, Harvey was nose-to-nose with me. I opened my eyes and with much enthusiasm he said, "I have great news. He's getting a divorce!"
Harvey babe-- Do I look like I was born yesterday? Do you know how many times I've heard THAT line from a guy before? Get back there and find out exactly what "getting divorced" means and don't wake me up until you can bring me DETAILS! I know, kinda bitchy, but I was so tired and slightly hungover.
Bless his heart, a few hours later, Harvey was shaking my arm to wake up. Turns out mystery man really was getting divorced. He'd been out of the house for well over a year and was just waiting on the papers to be finalized. Thank gawd! I was a happy girl again.
With a wink, Harvey was gone and got mystery man to sit next to me! We spent the next several hours talking and laughing, all the while the "life changing" feelings I had continued to grow. Just before the flight landed, he and Harvey switched back to their original seats.
Being a salesman, Harvey asked if I'd "closed the deal" and had a date with mystery man back in Los Angeles. I did not. Damn.
The three of us walked to baggage claim together and said our good-byes like any other business travelers would-- casually and rushed, as we looked for our bags and grabbed taxis home. My heart sank.
We woked in the same industry, and I had a high profile job, so mystery man would be able to find me-- if he wanted to. But I wasn't taking any chances. That night, I mailed him a note with my business card, telling him how much I enjoyed our conversation. Let me tell you-- I was sweating bullets the morning I knew he would get that card. So you can imagine the excitement when my assistant asked if I'd take his call. Hell yes!
It was the first Monday in November, 1988. We made a date for that Friday. Since I'd looked like an exhausted wreck when we flew together, I made a big point to look my best on Friday night. When I opened the door for mystery man, I caught him doing a double take to check that he was at the right apartment. There I was in my best "big hair, short skirt, high heeled look-- like I said, it was the late 80s.
That was our first date. Our second date was the next night; third date the night after that. And the rest, as they say, is history.
By the way, my life did change in just about every imaginable way. Swear to god.... true story. I'm a lucky girl.
Now, if you asked my husband about our life-changing encounter at the Milan Airport he'd simply say -- "She picked me up."
Have you had a life changing moment?
Welcome to TheFiftyFactor - Joanna