A long time ago, say 1985, my wife and I were living in La Jolla, California (no, not in a big home overlooking the Pacific, but in a 1300 square foot townhome). One night we both woke up and saw a shadowy figure standing at the foot of our bed. We started shouting and yelling and, when I got out of bed, the figure disappeared. We decided that we didn’t actually see anyone, but it was disturbing nonetheless.
Anyway, fast forward to 1993. I had just started my own consulting practice and was traveling so much that I got automatic upgrades to first class on Delta airlines. This time I was seated in an aisle seat in the first row where there was pretty good leg room, but no overhead storage.
I had my head buried either in a book or my laptop (a Mac PowerBook that probably weighed 20 pounds) when someone said, “Excuse me” and shuffled past me to the window seat. I noticed a pair of woman’s legs passing in front of me and also noted that her skirt was several inches above her knees. But I was working and had no time to see who had taken the seat next to me.
Well, that person sighed and said, “These conventions are exhausting.”
I looked at the person – a blonde who was (in my opinion) about 50 years old or so. I took the bait and asked, “Conventions?”
She said, “Star Trek conventions.”
I stifled a laugh, thinking – why in the world would someone your age go to a Start Trek convention. So, of course, I said, “You went to a Star Trek convention?”
She said, sweeping her hair dramatically to one side, “No. I was in the convention. I played Yeoman Rand in the original Star Trek series.”
It took me a couple of seconds to put the name to the face, but the moment I did I said, “Ah ha. You’re Grace Lee Whitney. It’s amazing, but I just watched an interview with you on TV the other day (that was true). You talked about…” I stopped, because the talked about subjects like her drinking problem, her problems with drugs, her relationship with Shatner and her new-found religion.
She smiled. “Yeah. I didn’t hold back, did I?”
Well, we started talking, mostly about her and Star Trek. I felt privileged to be getting the scoop on the antics that went on, the personalities, the so-called special effects, etc. She had me laughing a lot.
The conversation was quite interesting until it turned to her religious conversion. I try to avoid discussing religion at all costs (well, I used to, but I’m old and cranky now and don’t hold back), but I hung in there. For some unknown reason I mentioned our experience in La Jolla and, when I did, she shouted – I mean shouted – “It was the devil. You saw the devil.”
I felt every eye in the cabin on me. The flight attendant, in particular, had a very worried look on her face, like – is this woman dangerous? I wanted her to be quiet, but she went on and on. Fortunately, her voice lowered, but she remained animated. I had to hear about the devil and how he tempts us. Of course, it was the devil who created all her problems.
This went on for about a half-hour until, mercifully, I had to get off to make a connecting flight. Grace, who stayed on the plane, grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and said, “Put your faith in Jesus. You’re very lucky to have escaped the devil.”
“I know,” I replied. “I enjoyed your interview and wish you luck.”
Then I got out of the plane as fast as I could.
Afterward, I reflected on the experience and concluded that, if it took religion to get her turned around, so be it. Whatever works, right?