Air travel is always a bit precarious, as you just don’t know what is going to happen, particularly when we are in the midst of storm weather. After presenting for two days at a conference in New Jersey, I was headed home to Tucson via Houston last night. Due to weather, many flights had already been cancelled. But not mine. I was still “on” so I headed to the airport to hop on the plane. Couple this with the fact that I am going to have pretty major surgery a week from now, I was anxious to get home to spend some quality time with Dave and the girls and get ready for some dear friends to come in to keep me company before I go under the knife. The problem is not always the weather where you are but the weather in the place from where the incoming aircraft is arriving. In our case, the plane was late. “That’s okay”, the gate agents assured us. “There are delays all over the country, so those of you trying to catch connecting flights in Houston will likely find your flight will be delayed as well, so you’ll be able to make your connection.” Sure thing. We’ll all be okay.
We finally get on the plane and the pilot says (and, by the way, this is the second time I have heard such a statement in the last few months), “Ok, folks, we’re ready to take off but they are not sure the weather is completely clear yet. They are letting the plane before us go, and if they do okay, we will be next.” Well, doesn’t that beat all? If they are okay?? How about we know whether or not we should send that big monstrosity filled with human lives up in the air before we do it? “But we’ll be okay”, he adds, “because we will be able to make up time in the air.” That was good news, as over half the passengers had connecting flights, including my seatmate who was headed to Nigeria. The pilot said---we will be okay. We sat on the runway, waiting to leave (maybe the guinea pig plane didn’t do okay?) for another 30 minutes, which now meant we were leaving an hour late. Bad news. I only had an hour layover in Houston.
When we arrived in Houston, everyone bolted for the door, trying to jockey for position to run the race of the terminals. I caught the train to the next terminal, ran in my high heeled shoes down the tunnel toward the gates (a bit like Alice in Wonderland’s trip down the rabbit hole), and literally watched the door close as I arrived at the gate. “That is not okay”, I told the gate agent. “I am a loyal customer and I often wait a few minutes or a few hours for a plane or a crew. You knew I had landed. Couldn’t you have waited for me?” I actually said this in a very calm voice, which has come from realizing events such as these might not be as big of a deal compared to life-altering surgery I am about to undergo. It’s all about perspective, right? The gate agent said, “Don’t worry. It is okay. I will take care of you.” Despite the fact that I was watching my plane to Tucson back up from the gate while I was standing right there, I couldn’t be too mad. He was as sweet as could be and quickly got me a hotel voucher for the night and vouchers for meals, as well.
This morning, after getting re-dressed in my presenting attire from yesterday (we think my luggage actually made it on the flight last night---that is not right!) and grateful for the little bag of toiletries they give you when you are displaced, I arrived back at TSA pre-check to go through security. As Ii walked through security, I got buzzed. The agent said, “Ma’am, can you step over here? You alerted the system.” No, I didn’t, I wanted to say. I don’t want to alert anyone. A gentleman came over and had me go through a different screening unit and then he smiled at me and said, “Well, lookie here” as he pointed to his computer screen.” I looked up and the screen had just one word on it. “OK” He said, “how do you feel about that? You are OK.” I smiled at the agent, and said, “Good to know.”
Just for today, I am going to try to remember that wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whatever my circumstance, this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Just for today, I am OK.