One out of five
Suitcases, hand luggage, shoulder bags, snacks… wait, do I have my passport? Finally the five girls were all at the airport together. They’d studied, had deep conversations, and laughed together for years. This time, the regular flights were so expensive that they’d decided to try a new route and a cheaper airline to get home from their overseas seminary.
They had flown plenty of times before. They spoke the language well and had seen a thing or two in their time. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get to know a new airline. They’d booked the taxi early so they wouldn’t be pressed for time, and they were able to enjoy the scenery on the way. But moments after they arrived at the airport and joined the queue at the check-in counter, their joyful excitement turned to tension. The airline official at the desk was enraged, and her voice sounded more like a bark, issuing harsh commands like gunshots.
“Come on, you! …Open it up! …Don’t you have it open yet? …Dummy! …What are you standing here for? …and so on. Slowly, the group of girls moved forward on the queue, with an increasing sense of insecurity.
"You've got more than twenty kilos!" Now the desk clerk was roaring. “What do you think you're doing?!" The poor man at the head of the queue was flushed with embarrassment and indignation. What a terrible sin – carrying 22 kilos of luggage instead of 20! No one likes to be condemned to the pillory, not even for a crime like that!
"Remove the extra weight from your bag, or you might be standing here forever!" The aggressive clerk was determined to put this fellow through the wringer. He leaned down, confused, opened his suitcase part way and started pulling things out frantically… a jar of something, wrapped in bubble wrap, some item of canned food, and another two packages which looked like toys for children. The weight decreased to 20.7 kilos.
"How long do you expect us to wait for you here?! Are we supposed to sing dirges for the dolly that ended up in the trash bin? Are you observing a minute of silence in memory of the canned olives?! Do it already!”
Ashamed and frustrated, the man tossed the three products into the trash bin, and then pulled another object out of the bag and threw in the bin, without even noticing what it was.
Finally his bag found favor in the eyes of the mighty desk clerk, and the man left the queue, sighing with a mixture of anger and relief. But the next show was about to begin: "Twenty-eight kilos!" The clerk sounded as if she’d found twenty-eight kilos of cocaine. Twenty-eight kilos! This guy knew he was in trouble and didn’t try to protest, but immediately pulled out two or three items and threw them in the bin; surprisingly, the weight dropped down to 21.9 kilos. After a few more adjustments, the barking stopped for a moment, only to be resumed on the next victim.
"I have more than 20 kilos," Bracha whispered to her friends tremulously. "I'm sure I also have more", Miri said, turning pale. Their turn was coming soon. Five defenseless Jewish girls - what was going to happen to them? Deportation? Detention? Interrogation? Prison? It was unthinkable that in a free state a man was subjected to public humiliation and verbal abuse, just because of a little extra weight in his baggage. And here it was happening and nobody was saying a word! The girls looked at each other helplessly.
Normally, whenever they traveled, a bit of extra weight was treated indulgently – it was never a big deal. And they all had a permit for taking extra weight due to long-term travels – they’d never encountered any problem in this regard. What was going to happen now? The person before them in the queue settled for paying for extra weight. They stared at him anxiously. This clerk was even making people shell out money for a few extra kilos of weight! What should they do? They had no spare cash at all!
And now it was their turn.
"Twenty four!" The woman’s voice seemed to fill the entire huge terminal.
"Twenty four kilos! And you? How much do you have?!" She realized quite quickly that they were five… five innocent girls who were trapped in this tense situation. "Twenty-seven! Twenty one! Twenty-two and a half!" Only one of the girls had less than twenty kilos, but it didn't really matter… "You thought you could get away with this? Fools… We’re not going to shut down the whole airport because of you! Do you want to pay?" No, they didn't want to pay. They had nothing to pay with. They tried shifting some of their items between their hold luggage and their carry-on bags.
It wasn’t really working… they had too much hand baggage. They moved aside, to let the queue progress. People were staring at them with pity, or with resentment because of all the mess they were making with their belongings all over the floor, while the clerk never stopped barking and frowning, and from time to time spitting fire at them from her burning eyes. Five frightened girls in a strange airport and they felt so embarrassed and worried! They couldn’t just throw away essential belongings, and they didn’t have any frivolous items they could give up. What was going to happen to them? Finally, everything was completely repacked and ready to be weighed.
Some of the bags passed the test; on one case the officer cruelly wrote: "Re-weigh before the flight," and they knew very well what that meant and what the missing stamp meant. Ashamed, the girls moved on, heading toward passport control and then the gate where they would board the plane. It was still relatively early. They were walking quietly, trying to recover from the ordeal they’d just been through.
On their way they saw a young couple with twins, who were struggling to get to the boarding area with their double stroller and all their carry-on items. The girls kindly hurried over to help the couple. The chance to do a good deed was lifting their mood again. They had to reach gate number 58, they had plenty of time and they were passing gate number 84, walking comfortably. There still had fifteen minutes left. All of a sudden, they realized that they’d reached the end of the hall! How could it be? Where were the other gates? After anxiously asking passers-by, they realized that their gate was located on the other side of the terminal… quite a distance from where they were standing.
If so, it might be too late! They started running frantically toward the gate they should have reached a while ago, as fast as they could, only to find that… it was too late! They looked again and again at their watches and at the big clock on the wall. Only two and a half minutes left! How could it happen? Why hadn’t their names been called over the loudspeaker? Why had the shuttle bus that took the passengers to the plane left before the specified time?! There was nobody to assist the girls.
"Your baggage was pulled out from the line," one clerk flatly informed them. "You weren’t here at the specified time; you were late. You may purchase tickets for the evening flight if you want." No, they didn't want! Those tickets were much more expensive; they would have to pay a huge difference in prices.
They couldn’t ask their parents to help them. Besides, they couldn't bear the thought of going through the awful baggage process with that grim, barking clerk all over again … "I can't believe this is happening to us," said Esti, as she felt the tears welling up in her eyes. How frustrating! It’s so unfair! But there was nobody they could even complain to.
"A flight of eighteen people – couldn't they wait for five passengers out of them? Couldn’t they have called us over the loudspeaker? What right did they have to pull out our baggage without announcing, ‘Last call for boarding’? That’s standard procedure!” Rachel slumped in the nearest chair, her legs trembling. The girls were still trying to find some hope.
"Sorry, the shuttle already left." They were trying to explain everything politely to the nearest airport official. She was sorry, but there was nothing she could do… It was really too late…
"I'm calling the Holyland organization to pray for us right now," Miri suddenly said, trying to hide her tears. It was silly to cry over such a thing… but it was also so frustrating. "I am donating too," said Bracha. "Why not? It can’t hurt … Maybe they’ll send a private plane especially for us…" That made them smile a bit, and they spent the next few minutes telling some of the miracle stories they’d heard about Holyland and trying to encourage themselves.
Maybe some good thing would happen to them, to balance their bad luck… Who could tell who or what they might meet next… They started walking toward the elevators, to grab their baggage and then decide what their next move should be next. The elevator was slow in coming. Finally, it arrived. The girls stepped in.
The door was already half closed when suddenly, they hear the voice of a clerk calling to them, "Girls! Wait! We may still be able to delay the flight," he said, as they scrambled back out of the elevator. The clock indicated that the plane should have been already in the air a few minutes ago. "Where are your passports? You can board the plane right now; the shuttle is here."
He took the passports and stamped them, without a single remark about baggage or extra weight… He didn't even glance at their bags…
"OK. You can go now!" The five girls were trembling with excitement and joy. When they reached the waiting plane, two airport workers were on the tarmac, ready to re-load the girls’ luggage into the hold. And that was that! They boarded the plane and sank into their seats, grinning with relief.
Excitedly, they wrote their story together: Bracha A., Bruchi B., Miri, Esti, and Rachel. Five girls who experienced a miracle, thanks to their donations to Holyland. A Heavenly Hand had stopped the plane from taking off until the girls had boarded. If this was possible, then anything is possible. And indeed, anything is when Holyland’s messengers solicit Heavenly aid for their donors – a deed that will be accepted by God willingly and lovingly.
May all your prayerful petitions be fulfilled; may you enjoy the blessing of true happiness.
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