A friend flew from San Francisco to Panama last week and reported that his flight arrived late in LA, causing him to rush through the terminal and out to the shuttle at LAX worried he’d miss his connection. The shuttle bus took forever to circle the grounds and delivered him to the terminal for his flight on Copa Air to Panama City. It was the same terminal where his LA flight had landed!

With just 20 minutes before departure he rushed to the Copa Air counter, got a hand-entered boarding pass, set off the buzzer at security with his pens and keys and coins, managed to get through, then rushed up the stairs to his gate to discover it was the very same one where his SF-LA flight had come in! If he’d simply sat and rested he could have checked in at the gate and read a book. Luckily, he made the flight with only moments to spare.

It reminded me of the time in Dublin, Ireland, in the days before easy wifi and DSL. I was visiting my in-laws and having trouble with my dialup connection from their home. I called the tech support line for my ISP, but because my in-laws have only one telephone line and there wasn’t a cell phone in the house, I couldn’t talk to the guy on one line and try to connect on the other. So, once I’d written down everything he told me to do to get online I hung up and gave it a try. Of course it didn’t work, and now it was past midnight and I was fuming. I called the number again, heard the same voice, and said, “I was on the phone with you just a few minutes ago and what you told me to do didn’t work.”

A gasp came across the wire. Then, “You talked to me a few minutes ago?”

“Yeah,” I said, then repeated my problem and his suggested solution.

“This has never happened to me before,” he said.

“What, that someone was able to call you back?”

“Yes. Do you know how many people work here? No one has ever got the same person twice!”

It must have been my good luck, because this time, knowing that his first solution didn’t work, he gave me another one, which I tried after we hung up. Happily, I didn’t have to call him back again!

Larry Habegger is a writer, editor, journalist, and teacher who has been covering the world since his international travels began in the 1970s. A freelance writer for more than two decades and syndicated columnist since 1985, he has written for many major newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Travel & Leisure, andOutside. In the early 1980s he co-authored mystery serials for the San Francisco Examiner with James O’Reilly, and in 1993 founded the award-winning Travelers’ Tales books with James and Tim O’Reilly. He has worked on all of the company’s more than 90 titles and is currently executive editor. Larry’s safety and security column, World Travel Watch, has appeared in newspapers in five countries and on internet sites, including WorldTravelWatch.com. He regularly teaches the craft of personal travel writing at workshops and writers conferences, and he lives with his family in San Francisco.