I threw my bags down after the U.S. Airways gate rep told me I’d missed the flight. With my breathing more strained than when I finished both full marathons, I sat down for a good four minutes. The rep continued looking at me waiting for the expected rant. Breathing under control, but with sweat still running down my body, I finally stood and approached her. I’d used my four minutes to chill, really chill. The reason I’d missed my 7:49 pm flight back to Memphis started way before she’d entered my airport drama.
It started 4 hours earlier when my flight from beautiful, paradise-like, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic was an hour late taking off. Who knows why, I don’t.
From there it went about as you’d expect. There were no airline reps when we landed in Charlotte to help those with immediate connection flights make their way to the front of the meandering Ellis Island styled line to hand over my deceleration form to a customs employee.
As you already know I didn’t make my flight, but what I did do was a culmination of life lessons learned the hard way. You see, I had to anchor the news Monday morning requiring a 2:30 a.m. alarm. If I wanted to get enough sleep I was going to have to fight for it, in the calmest “I don’t want to get arrested in an airport” kind of way I could manage, in the middle of holding in a full rage, fit for a death metal soundtrack.
I stood in that unreasonable line for about ten minutes, all the while trying to have a reasonable conversation with the only airline rep I could find. It didn’t matter what I said, all she repeated to me was that, “Mam, I can’t create a line just for you.” Despite the fact that I was more than willing to invite other unfortunates like me into the special ” I’m about to miss my flight” line, she didn’t find it reasonable.
Then I saw my next move like a glistening oasis.
To the far left of the Ellis Island room hung a sign:
Special needs, dignitaries, and flight crew only – HERE
I did a very successful limbo performance under 15 ropes entertaining the other unfortunates, and got in my new line. Within seconds the flight crew was eying me. They didn’t agree that my U.S. Airways responsible anxiety constituted special needs but they did finally do the reasonable thing and walk me to the front of the 250 person line. With all their eyes burning through my still sun block lathered hair, I barked at the customs man that, “yes, I went to an exotic island alone.”
With that I was off on a mile long, doomed from the beginning, sprint to the gate, which would inevitably leave me getting only three hours of sleep Sunday night, despite my best planning.
During those four minutes of missed flight chilling, I repeated several new mantras. Including but not limited to:
– be happy now
– life isn’t fair
– make your own reality
– don’t worry over what you can’t control
– I hate U.S airways ( joking, but it felt good to write)
In the airport before I flew to the DR I bought “the happiness project.” I love self help books and want as much happy as I can get, plus I thought my typical read about Stalin could put a damper on the beachside vibe.
It’s a sweet little read that clearly came at the right time. Instead of yelling, crying and falling on the ground, like I wanted to….. I analyzed, acted and accepted.
No one was going to help me. In life, if we sit back quietly, we not only miss our flights, but shoulder some of the blame. So what if I was “that woman”? If I hadn’t done what I did, chances are someone would have said, ” why didn’t you just tell someone you were going to miss your flight?” You know that’s how it works and then you say to yourself, “Next time I’m not taking no for an answer.”
Now, my classifying this as a personal growth opportunity doesn’t mean I’m not going to harass the airline until they give me a free flight voucher and refund my nasty airport dinner, but I did giggle all the way home, much better than sulking with resentment.
I think that Punta Cana sun was good for me. Another note, thank goodness I never check my bags!