He was tall and pushed his way to the desk where the Alitalia employee was trying to explain the 7 am flight to Rome was delayed for technical reasons. There would be more news at 10.
We knew even if the plane took off at 10 we'd miss our connection to Malta. The man, we guessed, was one of those arrogant businessmen. He thrust the phone to the woman behind the counter, although she was talking to someone else and demanded that she speak to his wife so she could translate into his language.. Neither his French or his English were enough, though he spoke some of both.
As we clutched our ten Swiss Franc voucher in our hands and were on on the moving sidewalk heading back toward the restaurants, the man we thought was rude an arrogant was behind us. He no longer seemed either, more panicked.
"I don't know what I'm going to do." He then explained he was desperate to get to Tunisia. There were no direct flights to Tunis. His mother had just died. "She was just sitting in her garden. Her heart burst."
His heart was bursting too.
We told him to go to information and explain. I told him how helpful the airlines had been to get me to where my father had just died. By the time we reached the terminal he was calmer as he headed for information.
We saw him about twenty minutes later. He told us he was being routed through Paris and would be home later that day. We wished him courage in dealing with his loss.
How we'd misjudged arrogance for desperation.