I wasn’t whistling when I strolled out the front doors of the hotel I’d called my temporary home for three nights in Fort Collins Colorado, but I was feeling pretteeeee good knowing that I wasn’t running late.
I’d done the math backward; flight time minus an hour early = one hour. The drive to the Denver airport = one hour. The excruciatingly dull and slow ride from the rental car drop off to the terminal = one half hour. For good measure and a solid dose of wisdom from experience with missing flights = one hour.
It feels good to win.I stood in front of the monitor, gave the rushing travelers a condescending glance, then back to the screen to find my flight then gate number. “Flight 639 – to Phoenix – on time – gate C-49. Okey Dokey,” I read and thought to myself. Then I glimpsed the flight time.
If you’ve ever watched a movie or TV show where they use a cinematic feature to show shock, surprise, anxiety, and dread, then you know the “11:30” departure time grew from tiny distant numbers to me standing in front of them, gazing up at them, as tall as the Empire State Building… I thought the flight was at 12:35…
Sheer panic engulfed me and my heart started punching my chest from the inside. I was between a walk and a run when I rounded the corner into the pre-board screening area. It looked like something from downtown Hong Kong.
My hope was my business class boarding status, the line turned out to be fifty deep instead of the one thousand. I checked my phone, less than ten minutes till boarding, standing still in the line of molasses.
I cleared the line only to be stuck behind all the other poor saps loading their personal effects, including shoes, into the trays and onto the conveyor belts. When I finally got through the creepy X-ray scan I hurried to grab my stuff… that’s when I saw them slide my new briefcase into the “Further Assessment” stack. I checked my phone and my flight was boarding.
When they finally released my bag I ran… about a hundred feet to another line for the escalators. Then again to the underground train to all gates. I glanced at the sign, mine being the last. Of course.
As I waited, hanging onto the poles, along with the rest of the mob of travelers, my heart was still rolling thunder and my mouth was a desert, “This isn’t life or death,” I told myself, but there was little change.
The flattened wheel on my rolling suitcase made my run through the terminal sound like a machine gun as I stormed the gate. Folks were still boarding…
I realize that while most of us are better versions of our younger selves, we haven’t arrived spiritually yet. I don’t know the exact date that’s going to happen, but I know that it’s not going to be on this side of heaven.
“Running late – better late than never though,” I told the attendant, handing her my boarding pass that had “A-1” on it… she had no idea what I was really talking about.