Ayear and a half ago, I flew from Israel to London for one day of work, then on to Newark, where I had an airport meeting, and then boarded the United afternoon flight to Hong Kong, where we landed the next evening (with the time change).

After I cleared customs and immigration, I headed to the hospitality desk of the hotel I’d booked, to see if they had a shuttle. A fellow female traveler stopped me and asked if I was also going to that particular hotel. When I answered affirmatively, she told me that she’d booked a driver and offered me a lift. I was delighted to accept, even more so when the car turned out to be a Mercedes Benz S class sedan.

When we were both seated, she turned to me and sheepishly said, “I really wanted to talk to you on the flight, but saw that you were sleeping.” (Was I ever!) “So, can I ask you a few questions now? Because you’re an Orthodox Jew, aren’t you?”

Bam! right between my very sleepy eyes. I was set up, and had nowhere to run. The ride from the airport to Kowloon takes approximately 35 to 45 minutes. We talked the entire way there. She explained that she’s Jewish, her husband isn’t, and she’s the mother of two sons.

When we drove up to the hotel’s grand entrance, we were surrounded by staff, bowing and opening doors. Within 15 minutes, I was asleep in my beautiful, spacious room. It wasn’t until the next morning, when I regained consciousness, that I realized not only had I neglected to thank her properly, but to my chagrin, I didn’t have her contact information.

I was almost weeping with frustration as I racked my brains trying to sort out my foggy recollections of the previous evening. I tried vainly to remember her name, or any other detail that would help me connect. But other than the fact that her name began with the letter N, I drew a complete blank.

I opened my siddur and my heart and davened with intensity that I’d be able to redeem myself and find my unnamed friend. Hashem had handed me an opportunity on a silver platter, and I felt like I’d dropped it.

After breakfast of an apple and an energy bar, I began a very full day, and only returned to the hotel that night. I walked through the lobby several times, feeling like a girl in the Jerusalem Ramada Renaissance Hotel, trying to identify her date. After half an hour of fruitless searching, I was too tired to continue, and went up to my room.

The next morning, I had an early flight and was in the airport by 9 a.m. Although my business was successful, baruch Hashem, I was filled with a miserable feeling of failure. It wasn’t pleasant to remember that I had only myself to blame. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 591)