My first meeting of the day ended at promptly at 8:30 this morning. I headed up to my office to take care of a few things.
On the spur of the moment, I decide to see if any earlier flights are open to Indianapolis. The 10:05 has a lot of empty seats. Excellent. I can make it!
I grab the remaining files and books and head to the car.
On the way I call Delta. I manage to navigate the labyrinth of the phone system, and I finally arrive on the line with a real human being. Allison.
“Hello, Allison. I want to see if I can get on an earlier flight. . . . Alison? Hello? Allison? Oh please don’t leave me hanging, Allison!”
I start over.
This time I wind my way through and come to Michael. He is so helpful. And $50 later I have a seat on the earlier flight. I’m not quite yet a frequent-enough-flyer on Delta to change flights for free.
It will be worth it to arrive early and be there for the beginning of the meeting. Like movies, I hate missing the start. Ruins the entire experience to miss something so crucial as the beginning.
Just as I push end on my hands-free-speaker phone (fret not all ye who worry about my safety) I take the ramp into the airport, searching the signs for long-term parking.
Oh. Sugar Bombs. Closed?!
Lots of orange cones and guys dressed like rent-a-cops are everywhere. One politely explains to me, “It is easy to find. Terminal 2. Just follow the signs. Lots of other cars going that way, too. Take the light rail back.” I repeat his instructions in my head.
It is not easy to find. I follow the other cars (not really, but there they are in front of me). And we all miss the signs and circle Terminal 1 again. Oh. Sugar Bombs.
This time coming out of the passenger pick up area I spot a sign. It is low to the ground, blue, small letters say “additional parking” and a vague arrow points to no place in particular.
I find the right road and race along the 2.9 miles (felt like 29) reading every sign and hoping not to miss anything important. I can feel the clock ticking but avoid looking at my watch.
I park and the light rail is just in sight. I make it over to the waiting area. Dozens of other anxious travelers begin to congregate. No indication of when the train might arrive or how long it might take to get back to Terminal 1. I pace a little. It doesn’t seem to help. I try to look up the gate for my flight on my phone. I don’t know the flight number. I don’t have a boarding pass.
Boarding Pass. Oh. Sugar Bombs.
I spot someone I recognize. I know she’s on the program at the meeting where I’m headed. But she’s famous and I can’t remember if we actually met the last time I saw her. And even if we did, she wouldn’t remember me. I try to piece it together. I was with a small group. It was a restaurant. I don’t think we spoke more than hello . . .
I let it go and focus on the train now arriving in the station. Might not be her anyway.
When we get off the light rail in Terminal 1 I’m trying to recall the lay of the land. Do I have to go to the main terminal? Isn’t there a security check area around here somewhere if you’re carrying on your bags?
“Hi. Are you Krista?” I ask the familiar face.
“And are you on your way to Indianapolis?”
“Me, too. And trying to make the 10:05 Delta flight by any chance?”
“Yes. I had it timed just right . . . until that parking deal. . . .” We continued chatting and making our way to the security checkpoint. She asks me, “Have we met before?”
“Very briefly,” I say. All the while I’m thinking to myself, why didn’t I ask Michael to send me a new boarding pass?
As we step closer to the check-in I wonder if I’ll get through. Looking around I see not a single Delta kiosk. I hand the TSA agent my I.D. and scan my phone. It beeps and he says, “Have a nice trip.”
It’s after 9:30 when I clear security and reassemble myself and my bags. I look at the board and see that my flight is “boarding.” Yikes. I look around for signs to F1. I look the other way, my new-found friend is still re-dressing and re-packing. She has a boarding pass. I do not. I take off, feeling sure she knows the way.
The signs say Concourses G and F are this way. But like the dream where you run and run and run and everything gets further and further away, and you’re slogging through mud four inches deep, and you’re carrying a small barking dog or a wiggling baby. Yeah that dream. With every step F seems to get further and further away. I’m passing signs for every other letter in the alphabet, but F is still ahead.
I race down moving sidewalk after moving sidewalk. I race past one of the now abundant Delta kiosks asking in capital letters, “DO YOU NEED HELP?” Clearly. But no time for that now.
Then even the moving sidewalks fail me: “out of service.” Repairs ahead. Seriously? This is getting ridiculous.
Finally F Concourse this way. I’m hoping that F1 is not at the far end. Lucky break. It is first – where all number ones should be. The seating area is empty. The gate agent looks bored. But she’s there and I quickly explain myself: “I’m late . . . changed flights . . . no parking . . . Terminal 2 . . . light rail . . . no boarding pass.”
She’s not cheerful but at lease she’s not cruel either. She lets another couple through and then prints out my new boarding pass. I tell her with a smile, “There’s at least one more passenger coming along behind me . . .” I notice I’m perspiring a little.
As I walk down the jet bridge at a very leisurely pace, I laugh right out loud. And say to now one in particular, “Well! Now that was $50 worth of fun.”