Do you ever get a random text message that you don’t recognize the number or understand the message?
I usually reply, “You may have the wrong number,” and hope they connect with whomever. Yesterday, this message showed up to me. “We are having a service at 2 p.m., graveside at Woodlawn cemetery, this Friday.”
I considered the number and sent my ‘who is this, wrong number response’. The reply came, “Do you know Terry Flick? You were in his contacts.”
If you could only see the contacts I have in my mobile phone. I have more bus drivers and skycaps phone numbers than relatives in there. Being in the group travel business for nearly 25 years, I’ve met a lot of wonderful folks in the industry, and I love being able to call them personally and ask for their service.
Such was the case with Terry Flick. Terry worked at the Tulsa Airport for Latico as a skycap. He was one of the first people you would see. He worked outside at the curb checking folks and their luggage onto their flights.
When he saw our motorcoach arriving, he quickly grabbed a luggage cart to help us get our bags into the counter. He always remembered my name. He was kind and professional and always had a nice smile as he wished us a great trip.
He would take care of all the baggage and say goodbye. I always kept his number in my phone and even when he wasn’t going to be at work, Terry would arrange for someone to help us.
I would give him my business card with our return flight and he would stick it in his pocket so I would have help. I could count on Terry.
The Tulsa airport allowed a second company to come in to assist travelers. I put more names in my contacts and it seemed that I was adding and deleting on a regular basis.
But Terry stayed in there and he could advise me on whom I needed to contact as things changed as the airport grew.
A couple of years ago, I learned that Terry was going to retire. I hugged him at curbside, wished him well and I selfishly thought, “Oh, no, I’ll never get another one trained! Who will help us now?!” I really did miss him and how professional he was.
It wasn’t too long ago, I was cleaning up my contacts and I deleted his phone number from my phone. I wondered what he might be doing. I had no idea if he had a wife or family, and I quickly talked myself out of the call to avoid any awkward situations.
I wish I had called. The person going through Terry’s contacts was a hospice worker that had been with him in his final days as he lost the battle with cancer.
He had no wife or children. Maybe he had tons of other family and friends, but I was still in his contact list. I wish I had called just to say hello and that he’d made my job easier for many years. I could count on Terry.
I missed the chance to say goodbye as he prepared for his journey.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.