The Angel and The Ticket, by Tom Salagaj

Pastor Tom Salagaj is one cool customer.  To me, he is one of the many eccentric characters that make up the core of our church full of misfit toys.

But, beyond the scope our congregation, he is a musician who has played amongst the “Who’s Who” in entertainment.  We’re talking the likes of Debbie Reynolds, Sinatra, Joey Bishop and many others in the Rat Pack Scene. He’s done time with the Memphis Mafia (you know…Elvis’s People). And he is still a humble servant of God, devoted husband, adoring father (and soon to be 1st time grand-dad).  And he’s my friend. Here is one of his real life adventures


In 1984, Sheila, our 1 yr old son, Troy, and I were to fly from Montgomery, Alabama to Los Angeles for a 2 week vacation.  We had earned the tickets on Delta Airlines for giving up our seats earlier that past year. The tickets had to be used or lost. The night before our flight my brother in Texas called to say my dad had passed away and would I be able to come for the funeral. Calls to the airlines for a flight to Houston resulted in a very high ticket price that would have taken all of our vacation money. I was prompted by the Lord to check on flights from L.A. to Houston and did find a red eye special midnight flight for $100 roundtrip. We all flew to L.A. as planned, I left Sheila and Troy with friends; and then I flew to Houston that night for the funeral. After the 3 days of funeral/family, I was taken back to the Houston airport by a relative who lived there. During the 2 hr drive to Houston, I was busy and excitedly showing the people in the car all the photos of our young son who they had never seen. I was dropped off at the airport and went in to check on my flight. My return flight back to L.A. had been cancelled and the only option was to be transferred to another airline. When I reached for my wallet to show my I.D., my wallet was missing! All of my I.D’s, credit cards, and cash were gone! After several frantic phone calls to my brother and his calls to my aunt in Houston, it was discovered that I had dropped my wallet in the floorboard of her car. By this time, only 45 minutes remained before I had to transfer my ticket, get a boarding pass and get on the flight. My aunt was delayed by traffic and she arrived at the airport with less than 5 minutes before my flight was to depart. I grabbed the wallet, got my exchange ticket and raced down to the new airline counter. With two minutes remaining, I was in a line to get a boarding pass and knew I would miss that flight and would have to wait until the next day to depart.  Suddenly, a well-dressed man tapped me on my shoulder. As I turned to see who it was, he asked,

“Sir, I sense your frustration and perceive that you need to get on this flight that is about to depart. If so, I have two round trip tickets to Los Angeles on this very flight. There are two boarding passes attached. You may have both if you desire. My wife and I were to fly to L. A. for dinner tonight but she came down with a migraine headache this afternoon. She said I should come to the airport to see if anyone would be interested in having these tickets. I think you need at least one of them and I am so glad to give it to you free of charge.”

I said very quickly, “Sir, I do not have time to even discuss this matter; but with your permission, I’ll take a ticket and be on my way.”

He gave the ticket to me and I turned and ran down the gateway to the plane. The flight attendant was closing the door but I yelled for her to wait. She motioned for me to hurry on the plane. She ushered me to a seat after closing and securing the door. I collapsed into my seat and began to wonder what had just happened. Was it an angel who visited me or just a God ordained co-incidence? I will leave the answer up to the reader. For me, it was God helping a desperate husband get back to his wife and young son.

I kept that ticket stub for many years intending to try to contact the man who gave it to me. However, something always made me hesitate. Eventually, I gave up the idea and continually thanked God for taking care of me. With Him, nothing is impossible. I am convinced that God will provide for His people even if he has to create the blessing and the circumstance.

Now, the rest of the story…

On our flight home from L.A., we had planned a stopover in Las Vegas to visit friends. The man worked for Delta Airlines on which we had originally planned our vacation flights. He was amazed with us at the events of the Houston experience. But he also was able to get a refund for me for my original ticket I had not used. Then he was able to put us in first class for our trip back to Alabama. When we arrived home, there was a $50.00 check in the mail from a distant relative who had heard about my father’s passing. Therefore, my trip to Houston for my Dad’s funeral had been a free trip with a bit of help from God of divine intervention. It always pays to serve God.


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