By Pat Gallagher
We have boarded in Rome. He is already seated in his leather Business Class reclining window seat, a glass of champagne on the little pull-out table. I have the aisle seat and nod to him, offer a brief greeting and busy myself with settling in for the long trans-Atlantic flight. The flight attendant comes around and –it being only 10:00 in the morning –opt for orange juice. My companion, probably in his 50s, leans forward and takes a second glass of champagne. The attendant pauses, looking intently at him, and says, “Weren’t you just here yesterday?” Oh, those business fliers, I think, back and forth, up and down. No wonder he needs two glasses of champagne before breakfast. He nods at the attendant, who is poised to offer a snappy reply, and says softly, “My mother has died – while I was flying to Rome. I got the message when I landed. I have to go home– right away.” The attendant, visibly jolted, takes a couple of beats and offers her condolences.