Gratitude in the midst of travel angst

standard August 23, 2009 4 responses

To start with C was checked in as an adult. Because there weren’t any seats together any more. That turned out to be a non issue. A few taps on the steward’s computer, a little shifting around, and the three of us were sitting together again.

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The plane was delayed. 3o minutes. Nothing bad. Nothing bad if you don’t take into account the rather short, 45 minute layover we had in Phoenix, AZ. A few more taps of the keyboard and the steward assured me that we’d be fine. The two planes were located two gates away from each other. We’d have plenty of time to deplane and board again.

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20 minutes before boarding was scheduled to start I dragged the girls and all our carry-on luggage for a last minute pit stop. When we came back all the lovely people who had been hanging around the gate waiting for the delayed plane had vanished. Poof. Gone. Gate deserted. Gate change! Terminal change! From C-9 to D-26.

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Bags bouncing on my back, toddler on my hip, preschooler running at my side, erratic stroller leading the way, we mowed down countless travelers in our haste to reach the distant gate in time.

Sweat pouring down my face and my back, Little L screeching indignantly from her awkward perch on top of the carry-on loaded on the stroller, we arrived just as the loudspeaker blared an update.

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“I don’t think we’re going to be home tonight,” I swallowed a ball of tears. “There’s a storm. They can’t let people get the plane ready because of the lightning.”

The clock ticked on, each minute making it less and less likely that we’d make our connecting flight in Phoenix. Scheduled to arrive at 7:30. Scheduled to depart at 7:31. No flights leaving Phoenix after ours. Visions of hotel beds danced in my head. Not my own soft cozy bed in a room with no children. Another night in a strange bed with two little girls in my arms.

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The storm raged on. C and Little L curled up on either side of me and put their heads on my thighs. I rubbed their tired backs and watched the other passengers mill around, calling family, friends, to tell them they’d be late or might not make it that night.

“At least we got to have a great vacation,” I thought. “At least we’re together. At least it was well worth it.” Tired. Hungry. A bit worried about what I’d do for the night. But still able to see some good in the fiasco. Thanks to the Gratitude Challenge for helping me see the positive even in a crappy situation.

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“On 1st plane. Keep fingers crossed.” I texted M as we settled into our seats.

“In Phoenix. Pray for us.” I texted when we landed in Phoenix.

“Head to the airport in an hour. We’ll see you at 9:30.” I texted five minutes later blinking back tears as we settled into our seats.

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The United staff on our first plane asked the other passengers to let us off the plane first. The staff on the second plane held the doors open as the 8 or so passengers from our flight ran from one gate to the next. Moments after we rushed on and sat down the doors we slammed shut and the safety video was playing.

Little L and C’s mad dash induced giggles slowed and finally stopped as they settled down, C in her seat, Little L on my lap. They fell asleep as the plane took off, taking us home despite all odds.

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