In a national corporation, where the value of an individual with specific experience and skill set is in demand, I found myself traveling across the country on a very regular basis. Some times I would be asked to present to a very important client and design team. Other visits required me to walk on to job sites wearing a safety helmet, vest and safety glasses (Yep! I would take them on the plane as well). Other times I would travel to meet the various Tecta offices who needed more education on how to sell and install green roofs. My favorite visits involved evaluating an existing green roof system and why it may be failing; and make recommendations on how to fix it – and within a budget.
There were many memorable days and nights of travel, as one could expect. The 7+ hour delays in Newark, O’Hare, Birmingham, Atlanta, etc ; the occasional flight upgrade or chance to grab an earlier flight; and of course the variety of characters you meet along those travel hours.
One visit to Minneapolis I was waiting to return to Baltimore. I had just finished an installation that dragged out, but I had a chance to visit with many of my family members who lived in town. The flight was delayed, only 30 minutes or so, and we were finally on the runway waiting for clearance. The pilot started to describe what was actually happening…. We were just further delayed because a set of eye balls just became available, and they were needed at the Johns Hopkins transplant unit. WHAT?! I had never heard of such a thing. Well, I plan to be an organ donor and everything, but I had never had an incident so closely brush my world.
The ambulance soon arrived at the plane; I thought I saw a small box loaded into the cargo area. The pilot then announced that because we were now flagged as “transporting an organ” (I am sure the FAA has a better word for that) we were going to be re-routed to the most direct flight pattern possible at top speed, and we’d certainly arrive early! Well, that was a sweet deal!
The whole time on the plane, I felt a little weird. Here was an instant situation where I knew someone had died and someone else is going to benefit greatly from this unfortunate circumstance. At least one family had great hope that their loved one would be healed within two hours.
And, just as weird, there was a possibility of a set of cold eyes sitting on top of my checked bag.
The only thing that trumped this was a completely separate incident where I found myself staring at a coffin waiting out in the bag handlers’ area while the planes were getting loaded up. I was hoping desperately the coffin wasn’t going to be loaded on my plane. AUGH. I still don’t know where that one ended up…
Anyway, by the time we arrived at BWI, the plane shuttled at top speed to the gate. As the announcements wrapped up, the pilot reiterated what a privilege it was for him to be able to deliver the gift of sight to someone who needed it that day.
As you enjoy this wonderful spring, and see the beauty of green roofs exploding out of dormancy into various greens, reds, and flowers, keep in mind how fortunate we are with what we have!!