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Not a whale of a tale, but definitely fishy

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About three years ago, Anna and her family - one husband and four kids ranging in age from 9 years to 6 months - went to Wyoming for a week-long summer vacation. They took along their baby sitter, too, a lovely and loyal young woman from the Philippines whose name is Tien Sing.

The week went by quickly. They all had fun riding horses and doing Western stuff. The last day of vacation they went to a fair. The 9-year-old, Carolyn, got to wrestle a pig (a high point of any vacation) and throw Ping-Pong balls at a target. These were separate events. Carolyn threw the balls so well that she was given a prize - a goldfish in a water-filled plastic bag.

After the initial feeling of pride at her accomplishment, Carolyn (ever the sensible child) thought it would be best to leave the fish in Wyoming, either by giving it to a local child or setting it free in a stream.

"Fair fish never last," Carolyn told me later; that was her reasoning at the time. Tien Sing would have none of it. In her eyes, the fish was now part of the family and should be treated as such. Tien Sing carefully transferred the fish from plastic bag to glass jar, one that had previously contained baby food. She even poked holes in the jar lid, to make sure the fish could get enough air. Anna and Tom were so focused on getting the family home that they let Tien Sing have her way. And her fish.

Then they left for the airport. They had to change planes in Salt Lake City, but their first flight was delayed. When they got to Salt Lake, their plane was still on the runway, but all but one of their tickets had been reassigned to other passengers on the overbooked flight.

Tom could have done the selfish, if understandable thing, and flown home alone. He had to be at work the next morning. But Tom is not the sort of man who abandons his wife and four children (and don't forget the fish), so the plane flew off without him.

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