Just Getting There

At 8 p.m. last night I was casually sipping the last of my cold beverage, and enjoying a slice of pizza with friends at a local pizza joint. This is otherwise known as “skillful delay of packing for a trip.” With a 7 a.m. departure, I figured I had all night to pack if I wanted it, and I could sleep all day during the flights to Colombia.

At about midnight I put the finishing touches on the packing and climbed into bed for 5 hours or so of sleep–Total panic– I realized I’d left my boarding pass at my store, along with the pictures of kids whose gifts I was on a mission to deliver to Colombia. Arg!!! I just figured I’d have to get up half a crack of a you know what earlier to fetch this stuff, then I’d be on my way.

At 5 a.m. I was up and at ‘em…so far so good. I was out the door at 5:30 to fetch the stuff, and transfer a few computer files to the travel laptop….still good. 5 minutes and I’d be outa there. Five somehow turned into twenty five, and when I looked at my watch I had one of those pure freak-outs that comes when you realize you’ve just inflicted pain onto yourself that is now irreversible, un-repairable, and would require the most advanced of pleading and manipulation of airport personnel you are humanly capable of delivering.

Ok, into the car I went, with the gas pedal at full throttle to get to the airport in time for the flight. I grabbed my driver (my husband) with a 25 mph “get in the car- I’m late” move, pulled up to the airport, jumped out, ran to the ticket counter, and to my total (not) surprise, I was too late to drop off the pre-checked extra bag I had. (The bag that contained the soccer jerseys. The whole purpose of my trip, bag. The bag that now was going to require me to beg with TSA or someone else to allow it onto the plane with me.)

All I can say is that living in a small town has its perks. Not one of my ready-for-action skills of manipulation was called into duty, and I had full permission to just put it on the plane-side baggage cart (yes if you didn’t catch that, we actually have such a small airport that you walk across the pavement, unprotected and sort of wild-west like, and walk up the stairs into the awaiting 30 passenger prop jet.

Suweet! I’m on the plane, I’ve got my bags, and all I now have to do is get it checked in during my next stop. Perfect. Start the engines! Um, START the ENGINES, Ya…hello engines, did you hear me? Really I don’t know enough about planes to know if those are the “engines” or just the “props”. Bottom line? Plane has 2 props, one on the right, and one on the left. The left one just didn’t feel like starting. Are you kidding me?

Off the plane we went with no time to spare! My trip is a long dance of coordinated pick ups, rides, and rendezvous. I can’t show up late unless I want to be finding my own way through the back roads of Colombia, and I certainly can’t cancel. I had to figure out a way to make this work. After 45 minutes of line standing, new line standing, calling, bag grabbing, line standing, phone calling, and did I mention line standing? (My particular favorite line standing moment was when I stood behind 2 quite metropolitan ladies off to what looked like a fun weekend in New York, who were utterly perplexed by what they were going to do if they couldn’t get to their pre-booked $1000 per night hotel reservation refunded by the airline. Hmmm….I’m thinking if you’re booking $1000 hotel suites maybe you don’t need to be giving the completely un-empowered ticket agent a hard time right now. I’m guessing she’s not feeling too sorry for you.)

So, the bottom line? If I want to make it to Colombia, I’m going to have to get into my Soccer-mom mobile and drive it like the wind for the next 4 hours to make my flight at the next destination. Ok, then, game on.

I was pedal to the metal for the next 4 hours. Me, my music cranked, the roast beef man-sandwich that I stole at the last minute from my husband’s lunch, and my cell phone feverishly making calls to try to fix the big snafu that had now been created. I didn’t count the laws I broke, but just crossed my fingers, hoping everything would be ok.

Man Sandwich - high in protein

Man Sandwich - high in protein

I made it to the airport in time again (the luck I’m having at this point might have had something to do with my 85 mph in the 65 zone maneuvering). I parked my car in the “value” parking, which basically means that I was out in row D23, which is 23 miles removed from where the row D might be situated in any regular parking lot, found the courtesy bus, made it into the check in line, had the auto check in tell me “you’re too late to check in for this flight” (gulp, panic), got in the “agent” line, and had the nicest ever human on the planet check me in, calm my nerves and tell me to have a great day. Phew. I will!

I’m here in Houston, about to get on the red eye to Bogota, and hoping that all the strings “Juan” pulled are going to come together perfectly!

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