I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Saturday, June 4, 2016

In which I almost don't make my flight

I've had my share of travel mishaps and misfortunes -- cancelled flights, misrouted luggage, being removed from the airport by ambulance for emergency surgery. Usually it's out of my control, but not always; I'm always managing to lose some critical piece of camera equipment, or somehow I pack eight t-shirts and one pair of jeans for a one week trip.

Today I screwed up big time. And if not for this gentleman -- who will certainly receive my nomination for a Nobel Prize when they start awarding them to cab drivers -- I would not be sitting in Wyoming right now.

I can blame a little of it on United, but not much. My flight was originally scheduled for a civilized 10:30 am departure, but was pushed back to 7:45 am, meaning that I had to be downstairs for the shuttle at 5 am. I had everything packed, and all my clothes laid out, so that I didn't have to do much besides roll out of bed and carry my suitcase downstairs. I am not at my best at 4:30 am, so I wanted to minimize the amount of thinking required.

Everything went smoothly to start with -- I was at the airport by 6 am. I got my boarding pass, I was ready to go through security, and I reached into my bag for my wallet to get my drivers license, and it wasn't there. I didn't panic at first; there was so much crap in that bag, laptop and chargers and phones and makeup and my baggie of liquids, that it was hard to find anything. I sat down and took everything out. No wallet. And then I remembered taking it out of the bag this morning to make a last minute credit card switch. I couldn't possibly have just left it sitting there on the kitchen counter. I couldn't have! Spoiler alert: I did.

It was 6:15. I had 90 minutes until my flight left, and it's a good 45 minute drive between my apartment and Newark airport -- if there's no traffic on the turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel isn't backed up, maybe you can do it in 30 minutes.

But this Nobel laureate of cab drivers did it in just over 45 minutes round trip. I was lucky that it was early on a Saturday morning, but he just flew, all the while making me laugh telling me stories about customers he'd driven around for missing wallets and forgotten passports and reassuring me that I was going to make my flight.

Which I did -- just. The terminal was at the far end of the airport and I scurried up just as they were closing the doors. Then the gate agent informed me that the flight was full and I would have to check my carryon. I explained that I couldn't, that I had cameras and lenses in the bag, and he basically said I could get on the plane but the bag could not unless I checked it. So I had to repack right there at the entrance to the jetway, while the agent kept telling me to hurry up and that's when I lost it.

I'm not good at packing, despite lots of practice. It turns out I'm really not good at packing under pressure in public. I was sitting on the floor in the airport, digging through my socks and jeans frantically looking for the lenses I'd so carefully packed the night before and trying to fit them into my pockets.

I will draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene, as it involved both tears and profanity. I  made it to Jackson, and so did my camera, and none of us are much the worse for wear.

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