One in a Million

Flying from Portland to Las Vegas is a fairly common trip for me and my wife, maybe too common. Earlier this year, we were passing through the metal detectors at PDX when a woman traveler behind my wife was making grumbling noises. I looked at my wife and she shrugged, which I took to mean that she didn’t know what was wrong with the woman.

My guess was that the traveler was in a hurry and the line was moving too slow for her. As soon as we cleared the detector “doorway” I helped my wife unload our items from the plastic buckets, so as to clear the way for the anxious woman. As we walked away I heard the woman behind us say, “I’m not wearing a wire bra!”

We were headed for our departing gate when I commented to my wife that if luck was with us, the anxious woman would not be on our flight. Well, you can probably guess what happened next.

We’d been sitting for only a short while when the woman showed up at the boarding counter. My wife smiled at me and said, “Wanna bet she’s sitting next to us?”

Our tickets were for seats in the middle of the plane. Since this was a betting trip I said sure, “Five bucks says she’s not in our row.”

“You’re on,” said my wife.

We both studied the woman as we waited for the Gold Club members to board. She didn’t board. Then, they called the passengers to be seated in the far back of the plane. Again, the woman did not board. My wife grinned and whispered, “Get your wallet out, Honey.”

When the passengers to be seated in the middle of the plane were called, we stood and noticed that the anxious woman was fidgeting with something under her blouse. It appeared she was adjusting a strap.

We boarded and found our seats. No one sat next to me as we put our items under the seats. When the stewardess announced we were ready to close the plane door, the anxious woman appeared and was walking toward us.

Because the surrounding seats were occupied, I knew where this was headed. Sure enough, the woman plopped down on my right side. Fortunately, she wore nice perfume. I turned slightly to my left and slipped a five dollar bill to my wife. I whispered in her ear. “Double or nothing. She’s not staying at our hotel in Vegas.”

My wife chuckled. “At this rate, you’re going to be broke before we get to Vegas. You’re on.”

We were not surprised when the woman boarded the same courtesy shuttle to the same casino where we were staying. My wife and I stepped off the bus and instead of checking in to get our room, we went straight to the bar and had a stiff drink and a hearty laugh.

The rest of our Vegas excursion was fun and as usual, the time flew by too quickly. When we arrived back in Portland, I asked my wife for the car keys.

“You didn’t give them to me,” she said.

“Yes, I did. I went through the metal detector, took them from the bucket and handed them to you because I knew I wouldn’t need them in Vegas.”

She wasn’t smiling. “You did not give me the keys. You probably left them in the bucket.”

I shook my head. “No. If I’d done that, the TSA guy would have noticed and called me back, so I know I got them from the bucket.”

“Well then, you must have left them in Vegas, maybe in that bar we sat in.”

“No, that’s not what happened.”

I could almost see the fumes starting to come out of her ears. I tried to lighten the mood. “Okay, I’ll bet you all the cash you have left in your purse that I left them on the bench here in Portland when we hurried to get out of the woman’s way.”

“Do you have cash to pay me, if you lose?” she asked.

“I won’t lose this bet. I’ve already lost enough.”

“Suit yourself,” she said, finally turning up the corners of her lips.

It was after closing hours for the lost and found at PDX so we had to call the airport police. The officer showed up on a bicycle and pedaled up to where we waited for him.

“I’m embarrassed to say this officer,” I began.

“Embarrassed about what?”

“I lost my car keys here five days ago and I’d like to know if you’ve found them.”

“That’s okay. It happens all the time,” he said. “Keys and laptops, that’s we find more than anything else. If you’re lucky they’re here,” he said, pointing a door with a sign that read “Lost and Found.”

My wife looked at me and said, “Get your wallet out.”

I shook my head, “Nope. I got a feeling.”

“Yeah?” she said. “It’s probably the whiskey you had on the plane.”

The officer frowned as he rummaged through a desk full of keys. I had described our keys to him, emphasizing the custom Gonzaga key ring as well as the Seahawks key. He looked up from the drawer.

“You folks like to gamble?”

“A little,” I said.

“Well, maybe you ought to buy a lottery ticket. I just found your keys, here you go. Sign here.”

He handed me the keys as my wife let out an audible, “Woo Whoo!”

In the end, it didn’t matter how much money was in my wife’s purse, I was a lucky fellow that day.


Michael M. Pacheco's debut novel The Guadalupe Saints was published by Paraguas Books in April 2011, and his novella Seeking Tierra Santa was released in May 2011.

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