When it's 2:30 in the morning, you're in a small waiting room for an airport shuttle in a relatively rural town, there's one other person in the room, and you've got forty minutes before the shuttle leaves, chances are you'll end up talking to that person whether you want to or not.
On this occasion, the person who wasn't myself was an older man, balding and with grey hair, who was wearing black slacks and a black shirt. Though it was not a clerical shirt, I guessed by the rather large and prominent cross hanging from around his neck that this gentleman was a Catholic priest. (One does not spend two years around Jesuits without developing an instinct for these things.) After a few bits of question and answer back and forth with long pauses in between, sure enough, he revealed that he was a traveling chaplain based in North Dakota, who had just been at some Catholic youth camp in my area of Washington State. While all of the jokes about Catholic priests and youths, camp indiscretions, and the all-too-often horrific realities behind such innuendoes flashed through my head when I heard this, I decided to give this fellow the benefit of the doubt, and to assume that he was a good human being with good intentions. He would be traveling with me at least as far as the airport in Seattle, and it turned out he was on the flight I'd be catching to Minnesota as well before we branched off to connect to our final destinations. As a fellow traveler, and a fellow sacerdos (though I did not mention this about myself), I owed him as much respect as I could muster under the circumstances.
He was clearly not familiar with our area, or with Seattle's airport. As a native and resident, I always feel it is my duty to help strangers to this geographic area as much as I can, and to give good information to them when asked. I tried to give him the best tips on where to go, what to do, and so forth at every stage of the trip when he asked. He did not sit next to me on the shuttle.
When we arrived at the airport, we stepped off the bus at the same place, and gathered our luggage. I assumed he might go his own way at that point, as I had to obtain my boarding passes and check my bag, and thus I nodded at him and wished him a safe journey; but he finished his bag checking rather quickly and said, "I'll wait for you, if you don't mind an old man tagging along." I said that of course I didn't mind, and then went to check my bag.
We walked the short distance from the airline check-in desks to the inner concourse and the security checkpoints. I mentioned that the food selections in the main concourse were more preferable for my own tastes than those in the satellite terminal where our flight would be leaving, and so I would like to have breakfast there instead of at the other end of the tram ride to the other terminal. He nodded in agreement. It was just after 5 AM at this point.
As someone whose nervousness around travel manifests in excretory systemic overdrive, I let the priest know that I would need to stop at the bathroom before we went through security. The bathroom happened to be next to one of the queues leading to the security checkpoint, luckily. The priest said, "I'll wait for you."
It was not simply a matter of making libations to Sterculinus and Cloacina, however. Because I don't want any trouble at security, I remove all of my metal and other objects from my pockets while in the bathroom before security. This includes the coins that I carry with me at all times that represent Antinous, Hadrian, Disciplina, Hermes, and Cú Chulainn, as well as a small selection of other talismans and objects. It also includes the insulin pump that I carry with me at all times, which very luckily releases at the infusion site and can easily be re-attached for situations just such as this one. It takes a few more minutes for this de-metallification to take place than one might expect, but I did not feel like telling the priest what exactly I'd be undergoing in those private moments.
When I emerged from the restrooms, the priest was nowhere to be found.
The line through security had many more people in it now than a few minutes before when I had gone into the restroom. I did not see him in any of the lines ahead.
Luckily, the security process was uneventful, and quick considering how many people suddenly appeared. I prepared to opt out of the full body scan if I were selected to have it, but I was not, I simply went through the regular metal detector. Once on the other side, I looked for the priest, but he was nowhere to be found. I put on my shoes and belt, coat and hat, re-attached my insulin pump, and placed my talismans and amulets back in their proper pocket on my person (not necessarily in that order!) once I found a place to sit near the other side of security.
I sought out my intended food provider, purchased my food, and ate silently and relatively quickly. The priest was nowhere to be found. It was 5:30.