© 2010 - Bruce Gaughran
On the last evening of a managers’ meeting in Seattle, we had a group dinner. Six managers from different regions of the country were assigned to each table. During dinner, Rosemary, our product development manager, started telling us about a great book she had just finished. Paul, our Coated Paper mill manager, mentioned he had just finished reading it also. That revelation started a fifteen minute conversation about the book.
At the airport the following morning while waiting for my departure, I walked through the gift shop and happened to see the book Rosemary had mentioned. Intrigued from the conversation the previous evening and knowing I had a six-hour flight ahead of me, I bought it (something I would normally not do ... too expensive). Because it had been a long week, I upgraded to First Class and was looking forward to a comfortable and quiet flight home.
Two hours into the flight, an attendant walked by and asked what I was reading. I was a hundred pages into the book by now and knew I was reading a love story (something I would not normally read). I was more the Ludlum, Clancy, Follett, Vince Flynn and Graham Greene kind of guy. I turned the book over so she could see the title.
To my surprise, she blurts out, “My God, I loved that book!” Several people around me looked over to see what I was reading. She then went on, “I cried and cried while reading it. I must have gone through a box of Kleenex. My husband kept on asking me what was wrong, but I could not even begin to explain the emotions that this book brought out of me.”
I stuffed the book in the seat pocket in front of me and hoped this conversation would end soon. Unfortunately, the flight attendant was just getting started and all the passengers around me were now even more interested in our discussion. She went on by saying, “I hope I won’t ruin the story for you, but when Robert said, ‘This kind of certainty only comes once in a lifetime,’ I was an emotional wreck. Then, near the end, when Robert was standing in the pouring rain a few yards from Francesca, waiting, silently asking, pleading for her to leave her husband and go away with him, I just knew she would.”
By now, the attendant was dabbing the tears out of her eyes and I was slinking further down into my seat. My shirt collar felt damp and my mouth was as dry as desert sand, but the attendant was not the least bit embarrassed. “That last scene when Robert was at the stoplight and Francesca and her husband were right behind him was incredible. When she grabbed the door handle and was ready to jump out of the truck and run to Robert, I was cheering her on. ‘Yes, YES, YES ... You go girl!’ My husband thought I was crazy, but I could not help myself.”
At that moment, I wish I could have hidden under the seat. Thankfully the attendant realized that she had been talking to me for some time and needed to get back to work. She patted me on the shoulder and commented, “This book made me laugh, cry, cheer, and so much more. What a wonderful book. Just seeing you reading it makes me want to read it again.”
As the attendant walked away, the passenger beside me and the one across the aisle asked what book I was reading. I sheepishly pulled the book out and showed it to them.
It was, “The Bridges of Madison County,” by Robert J. Waller. It is a good story as well as a good love story. I also enjoyed the movie. Who doesn’t like Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep?