Airport Encounter

My dad dropped me off at the airport this morning at 10:15 am. Walking away from his car was harder this time than I remember from other recent leave-takings. The terminal was surprisingly deserted and I was checked in and through security in less than ten minutes. I needed a sandwich to take with me, meals on airplanes being a thing of the past.

I went to Marsee Baking, a chain of bakery/sandwich/coffee shops that dot Portland. There was a location two blocks from the house my family lived in during my high school years, and many mornings I would stop in for coffee and a bagel on my way to catch the bus. As I walked up to the counter of the outlet in the airport, turkey on wheat in my hand, I was thrown back in time. The man working the counter was Luis, the same guy who sold me my breakfast each morning when I was a teenager. He remains vivid in my memory because he was the only “adult” who worked behind the counter, the rest of the morning employees at the 23rd Ave. store were closer to my age.

As I handed him the $6.25 for the sandwich I asked, “Didn’t you used to work at the 23rd Ave. Marsee?’’ He look stunned for a moment and then started to laugh and smile, and answered, “I was there for 13 years!” He was surprised and delighted that I remembered him, and said that I also looked familiar. There was extra warmth in his tone as he handed me my bagged sandwich and wished me a safe flight.

Only in Portland.

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