Delta Sky Club


Delta Sky Club

If you know me, I don’t know a stranger. It’s kind of my calling card.

Over the years, I’ve encountered many famous people in airports and other public places across the land. I’ve had dinner in a tent in Steamboat Springs, CO, with one of my skiing idols, Billy Kidd.

I’ve seen Justin Bieber and his on again / off again girlfriend Selena Gomez racing through the Denver airport to catch a private flight. I’ve seen Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis in Maui on a golf course and Ryan Seacrest at a coffee shop in West Palm.

The list is long, and it’s just plain luck. I have a photo with Billy, with Ryan, and with Jerome to prove it. Where I’m different, I don’t just see them, I talk to them. I wouldn’t want to wonder, “What if.”

Yesterday took the cake. Business colleague William Longardner and I were traveling through Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, and our flight was delayed. We took safe harbor in the Delta Sky Club to kill a couple of hours away from hacking coughs and pushy people.

Choosing a quiet place to sit, I sat down to drink my “free” latte and have a snack. I glanced at a couple coming our way, a stunning woman and a tattooed man, along with what looked like special attendants. They headed straight toward William and me and sat directly behind us.

I said, “William, do you know who that is?” He didn’t hear me, so I texted him: “That is Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin” (her “consciously uncoupled” ex-husband).

I thought, this time I wouldn’t speak. I’ll just let her have her privacy. Of course, that was never going to happen.

I blurted out, “Chris, can I tell you something?” Chris never moved. I repeated it again; no movement. This alerted Gwyneth, and she said, “That’s not Chris; that’s my body guard.”

I said, “I’m sorry, Gwyneth. I don’t know what Chris looks like. I just wanted to thank him for a friend of mine.”

She said, “What did you want to thank him for?”

I went on to tell her about a friend of mine who had lost his son, Ben, in a tragic car accident just days before a Cold Play concert in Indianapolis. Chris Martin had been alerted to this by another friend of mine, and publicly dedicated a song to the boy and his family at the concert. Chris had written his name on his wrist, dedicated “The Scientist,” the boy’s favorite song, and arranged to have a photo taken during the performance to give to the family.

It was an amazing and touching thing, and helped the family in a time of despair and intense grieving. Gwyneth was touched and said, “I was just talking to Chris, and the next time I speak with him, I’ll tell him about our conversation.”

She then joined me in a “selfie” (see photo).

What turned out to be an amazingly fortunate delay, and a fun interaction with a delightfully sweet, genuine, sincere, and engaging woman, occurred only because I refuse to let life pass me by without attempting to open doors. Had I sat silent, I would have not been blessed, and more so, she would not have been blessed by a kind and positive story about a man who is important in her life.

The story gets cooler. In speaking with Ben’s Dad just a couple of days after I met Gwyneth, I told the story. He said, “Now it makes sense.”

He shared with me that the Wednesday night following my Tuesday morning encounter, Cold Play performed in Louisville. His sister was in attendance, and when it came time for them to perform “The Scientist,” Chris dedicated the song to Ben, just as he did some seven years earlier in Indianapolis.

Seems that Gwyneth held up her half of the bargain and told Chris of our encounter. Way to go, Chris, and Gwyneth! My friend Dan was blown away.

If you want to get blown away, my challenge is this: Don’t sit back silently and wonder. Open your mouth and wander!

Jeff Pinyot, President of ECO Parking Lights/ECO Lighting Solutions, can be reached at

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