Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meeting Jimmy Carter

It was several years after the end of his Presidency, but he still liked to "press the flesh". I preferred to fly into Gatwick on my visits to the UK, because it was much less crowded than Heathrow, before the buildings of Terminals 4 and 5 there. This meant flying on Delta and changing planes in Atlanta, but in those days my mother was still alive, and the drive from Gatwick to where she was living in Kent was much shorter than that from the larger airport.

My seat in Business Class was on the right side of the plane, but after boarding I noticed Jimmy Carter working down the left side from his seat in First Class, shaking hands with the passengers. It's not every day that one gets a chance to meet a former President of the United States, so I moved over to an empty seat on the left side of the plane. Sure enough, Carter walked into the middle section of the plane, and began greeting the passengers there. Soon he was shaking my hand, and telling me what a pleasure it was to travel with me that day. Content now that I had something to report to my wife, I moved back to my assigned seat on the right side of the plane.

Carter walked back into the crowded Coach class section, and continued to shake hands as if he were still running for election. When he reached the rear of the plane, he started walking back, shaking hands with everyone sitting on the right side of the plane. When he reached Business Class again, I felt somewhat embarrassed, but he clearly didn't recognize me or catch on to what I had done. Once again, he shook hands warmly, and told me what a pleasure it was for him to be traveling with me today!

Yes, I did have something to tell Barbara when she met me at SFO later that day!

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