Spoiler alert: that time was this morning.
Socially, for friend/family gatherings, I am always late. I don’t know why, but I cannot leave on time. It’s honestly pretty disrespectful of people’s time, but no matter how long I give myself to get ready – actually, it often seems the more time I have to get ready, the later I leave – 99% of the time I’m going to be late.
When it comes to the black & white stuff though – doctor’s appointments, meetings for work, flights, I’m always early. I get incredible anxiety at even the idea of being late. Especially for flights.
As someone who travels once or twice each month for work, I have a recurring nightmare that I’ve missed a flight. Like, abnormally recurring.
I’m also a semi-morning person; I enjoy being up early to have slow mornings and ‘me time’ before I get to work for the day. (Sorry if ‘me time’ made you gag, but #selfcare is important, and if you gagged, you probably need some ‘you time.’)
I like being awake before the rest of the world. (Obviously not literally.) There’s something magic about the early morning hours.
I also don’t mind early flights. Ya get where you’re going and have time to get settled. While the 6am flights seem dreadful when the alarm goes off at 3:30 or 4, and the moments at the gate before you board feel like pure misery, it’s much brighter on the other side. Literally, if it’s still dark when you take off and the sun rises while you’re in the air – that is truly magical.
So a month or so ago, when I chose a flight out to Seattle for today, I was perfectly confident with my 7:29am departure time. I’d been on earlier flights than that, and I’d have some time to actually enjoy the city upon arrival – I don’t have to actually work until tomorrow.
I spent the night with a friend so I’d be closer to the airport this morning, and I made it clear I was going to bed early. I had only one glass of prosecco, and excused myself from movie night (The Birdcage) around 10pm.
I climbed into bed, scrolled through Instagram, and set my alarm for 5am – or so I thought.
I can vividly recall lying with my phone in my hand, the alarm app pulled up, barely able to keep my eyes open. “Must. Set. Alarm.”
That’s the last thing I remember.
I had dreams about work per usual (something that should probably be psychoanalyzed at some point), the week ahead, and I even dreamt I forgot to set my alarm. But I was too tired to be concerned enough to actually…wake up and check.
I heard the door creek open, and Kelsey’s voice:
FUCK. This isn’t good.
“Yeah?” I croak back.
FUCK FUCK FUUUUUUUUUCK.
“OH MY GOD NO IT’S NOT NO IT’S NOT”
Please note Kelsey’s tone was gentle, and she’s a literal angel.
Panic set in – my nightmare was literally becoming reality.
(Again – that missing a flight is a recurring nightmare…perhaps I should look into finding a psychiatrist.)
My poor little brain was trying so hard to think, make sense of the situation, make a plan.
“This has never happened to me. What do I even do?”
Luckily, Kelsey the Angel is one of those ‘take charge’ types of people.
She pulled out her laptop while I got ready.*
*Went pee and put on a bra under what I wore to bed.
“Okay, you should go ahead and leave for the airport – it looks like if you get there within two hours of missing your flight you can get on standby for no charge. But call American on your way.”
I zipped my suitcase, shoved my unbrushed hair into a black elastic, and trudged out the door.
It was 46 degrees and I was in a t-shirt.
“I don’t even feel cold because of the adrenaline!” I said to Kels.
We hugged and I raced off, dialed AA as soon as I shifted into drive.
Of course a robot (automated phone system) answered and couldn’t understand my booking reference number. “SPEAK TO AN AGENT.”
A very lovely woman answered, I explained that I’d missed my flight, and I began to hear the clicking of her keyboard.
“So there’s a flight leaving at 9:45 with a layover in Dallas, and arrives in Seattle at 2:45.”
“Great! That would be amazing!”
“Okay let me calculate…
“…okay because it’s not an even exchange, it would be $576, plus a $200 change ticket fee, so $767 total.”
“There’s also a direct flight leaving at 4:29pm and arriving in Seattle at 7:10pm.”
“Is that a possibility?” I ask hopefully.
“Let me see…”
(I’m not exaggerating, this was an excruciating several minutes that felt like a lifetime.)
“It looks like there are seats available, and I can do this as a same day flight change at no charge.”
My eyes filled with tears of relief.
“OH MY GOSH, you are AMAZING.”
“Oh thank you. You’re all set – is there anything else I can help you with today?”
“No – you’ve saved me. Thank you SO MUCH.”
My head was still spinning – all of this took place within 30 minutes of me being awake.
So here I am at a coffee shop, processing, still kind of unable to believe it all. But utterly grateful.
Here’s hoping you never miss a flight. But if you do, remember it’ll all be okay.
Side note – I need a drink. Anyone interested? I don’t fly out until 4:29. 😉