That first week I had a flight home from Houston. The night I was to fly out, the city was struck by some nasty thunderstorms -- so nasty, in fact, that everyone in George Bush Airport seemed resigned to sleeping on the terminal floor. Desperate to get home, people were lining up to talk to a beleaguered gate agent, who summarily told them all the same thing: "You're not getting out tonight, we'll put you on a flight tomorrow." I expected the same when I got to the front of the line.
"Same thing," I said as I handed him my and my traveling companion's boarding passes, watch flashing on my wrist. "Any chance you can get us back to Miami tonight?"
He looked down at my boarding passes. Then up at me. Then back at my hand.
"Are you elite status with us?" he asked.
"No," I responded. He shrugged and took my boarding passes anyway.
"I've got two seats on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale at 11:30," he said. "Would that work for you, sir?" I nodded a very gracious nod, and he handed me two fresh boarding passes that I can only assume got me home half a day earlier than everybody else. As he did, I noticed he too was wearing what looked like a very expensive watch.