The Most Creative Way I Ever Missed a Flight

I promised a story of the missed flight and never delivered.

It was 6am and I was standing on the platform waiting for the brown line. I had miscalculated my travel time, and I was staring at the Sunday schedule kicking myself and strategizing how to get to the airport without forking over $40. As I count backwards from 8:30, I strike up a conversation with the only other person who thinks that trains run this early on a Sunday. He looks like this:I manage to engage with this strange man enough that I simultaneously realize two things: 1) I need to leave the platform RIGHT NOW if I want to get a cab to the airport and make my flight, and 2) my platform buddy was an actor in the 70s and did a couple of movies with Alfred Hitchcock.

Sane people know that the obvious choice here is to politely say “nice to meet you,” back away slowly, and hop in a cab. I do not do this. Instead, I say, “What was Hitchcock like?” and kiss any chance of catching my plane goodbye.

What happened next was that Ken Kincaid, as I learned he was called, and I spent 25 minutes talking about his life working on Western movies and TV series’. He was in Cheyenne Autumn, Fire in the Sky and Springfield Rifle. Turns out Alfred Hitchcock was “a short, fat, weird little bird of a man.” Ken told me that Hitchcock hated the movies, a declaration I didn’t believe. “Oh yeah,” he said, “I asked him once, I said, ‘Mr. Hitchock, why’d you spend your whole life making movies if you hate them?’ and he said to me, ‘If I direct the movies I can show people how terrible they are.'”

I asked Ken how he arrived in Chicago. It was 1987, he said, and he had a role in John Wayne’s last movie. He forfeited the role to come to Chicago and take care of his sister who had emphysema. Did I know the Jewel-Osco on Broadway and Berwyn? I told him I did. He said, “well, I was walking to the store that was up there to get somethings for my sister, and a man stepped out of a bar holding a 38-gauge shotgun. He said to me, he said, ‘I have something for you, cowboy’ and shot me in the stomach. I woke up from the coma 5 weeks later missing a piece of my stomach and one lung.” And that’s how he wound up in Chicago.*

A train is rumbling up. We both get on. I ask Ken where he’s headed. The flea market on Roosevelt, obviously. He buys beads and pendants to make jewelry, obviously. He shows me a bracelet he made. I notice a “L-O-V-E” tattoo on his knuckles where the old blue ink has spread and blurred the letters. He gets off one stop later, shaking my hand goodbye.

This conversation cost me four hours of travel time. I called to apologize to my dad for missing the flight and cutting into our afternoon together. True to form, he replied “Don’t be sorry! Just another one of life’s adventures!” In other words, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.

*When I reconnected with the internet a million hours of travel later, I confirmed Ken’s stories. He even speaks on the dangers of gun violence.

Related Post: Other fun things that happen when you return to Massachusetts. Also involves guns!

Related Post: My dad is awesome. I wrote a whole article about him for the Good Men Project.

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8 Comments

Filed under Art, Family, Hollywood

8 responses to “The Most Creative Way I Ever Missed a Flight

  1. I, too, love to travel and talk to strangers, but this is right up there with one of the best random conversations I’ve ever heard of. Don’t remember how I found your blog, but just started getting it in my inbox and am SO GLAD I do.

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