Disappearing Lisa

Brasil - IpanemaThe flight home, all in all, was a bit of a disaster but one of the brightest parts was while boarding the second leg at Frankfurt International Airport.  This is an airport I despise and will do my best to avoid at all costs. Over the years any encounter with the Frankfurt Airport has left me in two minds. One is clearly frustration while the other is endearment.

If the truth be told it would appear that I have a mini love-hate relationship with an airport.

I remember one flight, back in 1988, from Rio to London which had a stop-over in Frankfurt. In Rio I had been lounging on the beach thinking my flight was at 6:30pm.  At 2pm I was still soaking in the days rays when I realized my flight really left three hours earlier.

All hell broke loose and my Brazilian friends accused me of being an honorary Brazilian but noted that this may not be working so much in my favor at this time. We raced
to the airport with me changing clothes en-route in the cramped two-door Honda.

As we approached the terminal a friend jumped out, ran to the security line and desperately pleaded with the officer to allow me through even though my gate had closed. Given this was 1988 and not post 2001 the plea worked and I was escorted to the gate with less than a few minutes to spare.

Skip past the trans-Atlantic flight and there I was in Frankfurt; all my bags had been declared missing by the airline. I had stupidly packed all my epilepsy medication in one of the bags; something I never did, do, or have ever done since.

On this occasion, given the Rio rush, I had made a misstep.

Baggage claim and security were not about to do anything but good fortune was not far away in the form of a ticket counter girl who took me under her wing. She hustled me off to the parking lot and drove me in her car to a small town; to a pharmacy.

It was closed.  

She knocked on the door like she was conducting a humanitarian home invasion; waking everyone inside. The pharmacist comes down in his night robe looking disgruntled and a lot like Mr. Scrooge but opens up his shop to me and fills a temporary prescription; enough to get me back to London, with a couple of days extra, then sends me and the ticket girl on our way.

That event endeared Frankfurt to me; one of those slices of life and chance encounters that cannot be scripted.

Over the years whenever I have had to fly through Frankfurt something has happened. Frankfurt Airport is one of the least desirable airports I have come across. There is absolutely no access to anything remotely resembling comfort and it would certainly not seem out-of-place if a sign on the wall indicated that attempting to seek comfort was strictly forbidden.

This arrival in Frankfurt would be no different from all the others.

When leaving Delhi my flight had been overbooked and, as is usual in these situations, an enticement was offered by the airline to anyone wishing to give up their seat for a later flight.  Along with that you would be put up in a five star hotel, transferred to and from the airport, and given a flight coupon for any future date worth 1200 euro’s…quite a deal!

Being expected back at work the following day I was not able to accept the offer so, with disappointment, I declined.

My arrival in Frankfurt was on time however the intended brief layover quickly turned into a twelve hour delay. I found myself in the familiar shuffle from terminal to terminal looking for a place to sleep, or at the very least; rest. The first ten hours went by with slow agony but it was the last couple that made for this chapter of my journey.

As I sat in the waiting area of my gate I noticed an attractive woman reading a Paulo Coelho novel and this sparked a conversation between us. Lisa was from the US and had started a company renting out villas in France to American families looking for a respite on the Riviera, a Parisian getaway, or a holiday of peace and quiet in a quaint countryside village.

We talked about other Coelho books we had read and she explained to me how much the book she was reading meant to her. It had touched her and refocused her thinking about both business and life.

When it was time to board the plane we separated to take our seats. After take-off I went to the bathroom and was only gone a few minutes. Upon returning to my seat there was her book in its bright red jacket…”Eleven Minutes” by Paulo Coelho.

I looked for Lisa all over that plane and can only assume she was in first class as I could not find her anywhere. In fact I would never see her again but in the book was a note “Enjoy this book and all life has to offer – Lisa”…and her business card with an email address. It was a very cool gesture and an act of kindness when I was in need of one.

Hi Tim – Thank you for your email. I can be rather spontaneous at times and for some reason you touched me and I wanted to share the book with you. I hope you enjoyed it and that life is smiling on you.
Take care! Lisa

To find out how this all came about; click Beckoned Skyward by an Earthquake.

50 thoughts on “Disappearing Lisa

  1. I too like the way two different people can experience things. I guess the differences are what make us unique. I do not do much traveling anymore, and I have never been to the Frankfort Airport, your story makes me want to see it now. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent story. I’m glad the pharmacist was able to get you a temporary prescription. Lisa sounds like a very nice lady. Those chance encounters are always interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful story Tim, and like Pamela I kept waiting for the romantic twist! Also, had to laugh about your history with Frankfurt airport – been there done that! The most memorable occasion was when I flew in for a conference – of course my bags were lost. This was bad enough but the entire trip up to this point had been a nightmare due to snowstorms all across the country delaying flights and in the end I had been rerouted through the UK so by the time I got off the plane I’d been enroute for nearly 40 hrs! No sympathy for this poor schlep until the 2 young women at the airline counter realized I was from Maui. They freaked out because they were planning a trip to the Island in 3 months. I promised the world if they would find my bags in time for me to go to the conference wearing something other than the clothes I’d just spent the last 40 hrs in. Exactly 1 hr before I was scheduled to leave for the opening event my bags showed up! Not only that, they arranged to have me upgraded on the flight back. Three months later I reciprocated and we all had a grand time when they visited Maui. Some times the stars do all come together in magical ways. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. it’s like a movie-script. I kept waiting for ,”And that was 10 years ago, now Lisa and I have 4 kids and a dog”! Your adventures are amazing. I can’t believe, you took that car ride. I’d be thinking, “they must have heard me trashing the Frankfort airport and they’re going to kill me”.

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  5. A contrast between acts of kindness and the way airlines, airports and everyone else involved in air travel treats their customers. My bad luck airport is O’Hare where I’m sure you’ve had some less than stellar experiences as well. I also have a good luck airport, LAX.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. O’Hare is definitely a beast of an airport but as it was most often my final destination I never really gave it too much thought. Just wanted out of there as quickly as possible.


  6. That is like a story out of a movie. I think it is so interesting that Lisa knew where you were sitting, enough to know to drop the book off while you were in the restroom, but you couldn’t find her. That really helps make it such a great story. And, of course, she probably has no idea of the long-term impact of giving you the book, that you wrote about it in your blog and that a bunch of us are talking about it right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tim, I am such a reader yet have never heard of Paolo Coelho before. I am going to the library this morning so will definitely look for him.
    What a nice touch by Lisa – isn’t it wonderful that something good happens when you need it the most?
    Enjoyed as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how different people can experience the same things differently. I love the Frankfurt airport! I’ve traveled in/out a dozen times and have never had a bad experience. Your book story reminds me of one on a trip to the Caribbean many years ago. I asked a fellow if he liked the book he was reading, that I had read others by the author. He said yes and about ten minutes into the flight came to find me and gave me the book–he had finished it. Fun stories.

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  9. Those are the kinds of anecdotes that make a trip extra memorable. What a trip you had! One on one, a lot of people are worth meeting, aren’t they? I don’t care for Frankfurt Airport either but you actually made out okay, didn’t you?

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  10. As always I was hooked by your post. You completely capture your audience. I was so intrigued by your story and was left wanting to read more about your airport experience.

    What a blessing that a lady you had just met left you her book. You obviously have a way with people!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely story. Your experiences and love-hate relationship with Frankfurt airport really show how a place can have two sides to it. The story about Lisa is delightful. Sometimes someone we meet only briefly can touch us and have a lasting impact.

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  12. What a fabulous story! Detroit is my hate airport…not nearly as exotic as Frankfurt:) I’ve actually had great experiences in Frankfurt Airport, but I was returning from Russia where anything compared would look like luxury and polite conversation! As to Lisa…she has great taste in books and I’m a little sad that you have never seen her since:( But there’s a season and a reason for everything, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was just talking to someone the other day who felt exactly the opposite of me regarding Frankfurt so guess it is all in the individual experience. Good to know that it has its supporters 🙂


  13. You’re an amazing storyteller! 🙂 I personally believe that every moment and/or person you come across in your life is meant to be for a reason. It seemed that she left you a great impression. Now I gotta check out that author and his books! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved the story of the late night pharmacy and the little red book. I think I’d characterize the relationship as leaning toward the “love” side of the spectrum. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a crazy place Dave and I have not met many people who claim to like it. Now mention Singapore Airport and almost everyone starts to talk with a smile.


  15. I was in the Frankfurt airport once and all I remember is leaving it to go get breakfast in Frankfurt and eating some huge German dish that did not settle well 😦 I love Paulo Coelho, too and definitely believe in the fact that some paths are meant to cross in this life for reasons we may never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think Lisa knew you needed that book at that particular time, Tim. Sometimes karma works in our favour, you know. Lisa knew it, too. What a nice story! I love true tales!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Tim,

    I confess to getting caught up in your post – nice piece of storytelling! Those unexpected interludes such as yours with Lisa remain in our minds forever, don’t they? Looking forward to hearing more, please keep posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy

    That is why I never let these little frustrations bother me! Nice story.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. hi tim; i got a big laugh out of the brazille part of the story. and it was amazing that you would meet someone in the airport who not only love the same author but had a copy of the book. and the lady has real style that should serve her well in her business. looking forward to more of your awesome stories, max

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Great story. There are so many airports that are not my favorite but I have to say Frankfurt doesn’t stand out in my mind. If you hadn’t been in the right place at the right time you would have never met Lisa. My daughter-in-law is from Honduras and every day she puts up a quote from Paulo Coelho. Never really thought about but now after you have written this post I will look into to it more. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Tim. I love Paolo Coelho too. His words are nothing but inspiring. It is amazing that sometimes, in your lowest moments, someone would actually come and turn things around to make you feel good about yourself, about life. When me and my husband broke up, I lost all belief in marriage and relationships… until someone appeared and taught me to love again. We’ve been together now for 8 years and counting, just being ourselves, being silly at times and building memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Nice post, Tim! We all need to meet a ‘Lisa’ from time to time to make today’s travel less painful. I’ve never been to Germany, but somehow am not surprised about the lack of comfort at the Frankfurt Airport. Take comfort where you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What a lovely story about the book. But you also experienced kindness from the start of your trip when your friends whisked you to the airport and the ticket counter girl who took you to the pharmacy. These are the stories we remember when we travel. One of mine was many years ago when I was touring through Italy with friends on the way to Naples. It was late at night, we hadn’t had dinner and were starving. We came upon this small village and got to a small restaurant just as the owner had pulled down the outside shutters. We begged him to give us something to eat. He looked at each one of us, shrugged his shoulders, threw up his hands and unrolled the shutters. I’ll always remember that meal.

    Liked by 1 person

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