Twenty years ago today, I was working at JFK Airport, on the 2pm – 10pm tour, and I was assigned to the Tower Air terminal. I remember standing outside the terminal, when a yellow taxi cab pulled up to the curb, and a man hastily exited. If my memory serves me correctly, he had mentioned that his first cab had been involved in a traffic accident, which was why he was late and in such a hurry. He was trying to make the Tower Air flight to Paris. He asked me where he needed to go to check in, and I walked him inside to the check in counter.
The agent informed him that it would it was too late to make his flight, but that Tower Air worked with TWA, and she could transfer him to a TWA Flight, which was leaving soon as well. The agent told him he would have to hurry, but it was possible he could make the flight. What stuck in my memory was just how calm, patient, and polite the man was. Generally speaking, many people get agitated, cranky, and sometimes down right cross when they miss flights. This man just took it in stride. The agent worked quickly and diligently to process him, and soon enough, he was thanking her for helping him as he left the counter. I told him I would help him get a cab, since taxi drivers didn’t like taking a “shortie”, which was what they called short, low fare trips. A trip from one terminal to another was definitely not a desired fare.
We stepped outside, and I found a taxi dispatcher. I explained the circumstances, and the dispatcher said he would help. He issued a “shortie ticket” to a driver, and soon enough the man was loading his luggage, and about to continue on his way. He thanked me profusely for my help, and I remember the last thing he said to me was, “Officer, it’s just been one of those days! Wish me luck!”. I wished him luck, and sent him on his way.
It was twenty years ago today that TWA Flight 800 exploded shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport killing everyone on board. That was the TWA flight that the man was rushing to make. To this day, I wonder about the fate of the man I encountered that day. Did he make the doomed flight or did my good wishes change his luck? During the aftermath of that tragedy, I was never able to ascertain any information about him. After all, I never had cause to ask him his name, and I wasn’t privilege to the records of Tower Air, so I couldn’t look his name up. I’ll never forget him though. Without question, it was a case of just another day at work turning into a lifelong memory. May all the souls of those who died on TWA Flight 800 rest in peace.by