By JoEllen Collins

JoEllen Collins—a longtime resident of the Wood River Valley—is a teacher, writer, fabric artist, choir member and unabashedly proud grandma known as “Bibi Jo.”

After viewing replays of the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, I almost fell into a familiar pattern of fear about the future of the country I have honored, even while disagreeing with some actions of our leaders. I hated reading about a possible civil war over our political divide, about the number of violent responses to problems in our society and about an America that is facing the realities of the mistreatment of minorities, and the stupidity of those too gullible to act intelligently when dissatisfied. It is tempting to be cynical when confronted by such negativity.

However, last week I experienced what could have been a disastrous situation but that turned out to be not only palatable but a boost to my basic optimism about humanity—my trip home from Oklahoma after spending Christmas there with my birth family, a blessed time filled with love, acceptance and understanding between all of us.

When I was ready to fly to Salt Lake City, I learned that my second flight from SLC to Sun Valley had been cancelled, so my brother found a flight from SLC to Twin Falls, a route I have often taken. The airline representative promised that there would then be transportation to Sun Valley.

As it turned out, had that flight for SLC not been cancelled, I would have missed it anyway. Since my first plane was a little late, my time between flights was too short for me to reach the gate on time. I settled into the terminal next to passengers who had been waiting, some overnight, for our trip to Twin Falls. We spent almost four hours of delays, finally arriving in Twin where there was no transport to Sun Valley.

But three things redeemed the day. My fellow travelers, Twin Falls residents, and I enjoyed good conversations, but when we also admitted to being a bit hungry, a young man a row behind us offered to get me some ice cream. So thoughtful! I thanked him but resisted the temptation. Then I noticed a mature woman and two teenaged girls, heavily scarved, trying to talk to the clerk at the counter, who rapidly found a Farsi translation on her phone and explained things to them while also having to field other people’s incessant questions. Eventually, she asked me if I would be willing to have the three refugees follow me via the bus to the plane, so they wouldn’t get lost. I felt honored to do so and pleased when we landed and a group of people from Twin were there to welcome and escort these refugees on their next journey.

Then I asked travelers at Baggage if anyone was heading to Hailey or north, and a couple offered me a ride home. We had friends and experiences in common. What a delight! They left me at my dogsitter’s house, where my daughter came and took me home. Friendly people, my cuddly doggie, and new friends. Without the day’s trials, I wouldn’t have been so blessed.

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