I had two weddings at which to officiate on August 23, 1995, the day my son got married, and his was the second. My wife and I hosted the rehearsal dinner on Friday night, the day before the wedding, in Nashville, Tennessee. Then I flew back early Saturday morning to Cincinnati to perform a wedding at the church where I preach. The wedding was at noon and went off without a hitch.
I was to catch a 2:30 EDT flight back to Nashville to arrive there at 2:30 CDT for 6:00 pictures and the 7:30 wedding. I got to the airport with a ride from a friend who was at the noon wedding. The schedule showed the plane on time, so I had a leisurely lunch and went to the Comair counter.
There the ticket agent greeted me cheerfully with this statement: “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the plane is on the ground. The bad news is that the engine has been taken apart because of a mechanical problem. The flight is delayed and I don’t know when it will depart.”
I said, “That is not acceptable because I am officiating at my son’s wedding in six hours. I have to get to Nashville quickly.”
His supervisor overhead the conversation and left her line of passengers and rushed to the next counter to check on the status of the plane and to find a definite time when the plane would depart. The information was not available, she told me. I then said, “Can I charter a plane? I have to get to Nashville now.”
She said, “Let me check.” She made a phone call and then told me of an office to go to nearby and a phone number to call. I ran to the location and called and Mike answered. “How soon do you need the plane?” he asked.
I said, “Immediately.”
He told me he would have a crew ready by 3:30 and it was now 1:30. He told me to go back to Terminal A, which was a bus ride and tram ride away and wait for a white van which would pick me up in 15 minutes. I rushed to Terminal A and waited five minutes, ten minutes, and fifteen minutes and no white van.
As I looked inside the terminal from the hot August air of outside, long before I had a cell phone, I thought I faintly heard my name being paged. I ran inside and heard the second announcement asking for Steve Boyd to report to the Comair desk. I rushed to the desk and there beside the person paging me was a former student of mine.
She smiled cheerfully and asked, “How are things going, Dr. Boyd?”
I said, “This is not a good time to ask that question.” She could tell things were a little tough by the expression on my face.
The person who paged me said there was a call from Mike who was chartering the plane for me. He said that Comair had found another plane to substitute and that we would leave at 2:30. It was now after 2:00 and a good fifteen-minute ride back to Terminal C. He said that they would hold the plane for me if I wanted to go commercial instead of chartering the plane. Of course I was all for that.
I ran back to the bus and as I got to the terminal the Comair manager was waving me inside and a ticket agent had already stamped my boarding pass. I rushed to the plane and found to my chagrin that all the luggage had not been transported and so we waited another 30 minutes before we could depart. I got to Nashville at 3:30, Nashville time, and my son was waiting for me. We made it to picture taking on time and the wedding went off without a hitch.
Later I talked to my former student and she said it was rare for the company to be willing to charter a plane and still rarer for a plane to be found to so quickly substitute for the grounded plane. Usually when that kind of problem occurred the flight was cancelled or you would wait several hours or the next day for a plane to be flown in from another city to take the waiting passengers.
It seems to me that Someone with more authority than Comair wanted me in Nashville to officiate at my son’s wedding, for which I am eternally grateful.