Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cutting it Close

As my eyes opened Wednesday morning my brain quickly realized that something was amiss. The early morning sun filtering through our bedroom curtains should not have been there, since I was supposed to wake up at 3:30AM to prepare for my 6:30AM flight. In Tucson the sun should not be up at 3:30AM. After the few short seconds it took for my brain to process this knowledge I quickly sat up and looked at my alarm clock--5:30AM!! Somehow I had slept through my alarm and had only 1 hour to get ready and get to the airport. I sprang out of bed, shook Sharilyn awake and frantically started throwing on my clothes. Fortunately I had almost everything ready to go, awaiting just a few last minute items. No time to shave. Barely time to brush the teeth. In 10 minutes Sharilyn and I were ready to go. The noise of our preparations awoke our son, who came out to say good-bye to me as I quickly threw my bags in the car. At that point I was so anxious about not missing my flight that my good-bye kiss was more like a bear mauling.

Driving quickly through the streets I pushed the edge of the speed limit, hoping that no early-morning police officer would feel the need to bless me with a stop. At each light I prayed that it would stay green or, if it was red, I impatiently waited for the light to cycle. Each minute seemed like an eternity. If I missed this first flight, it would throw off my whole schedule of connecting flights and when one is flying halfway around the world, that is not an insignificant matter!

Just after 6AM we reached the airport. Pulling over to the curb, I jumped out and pulled my bags from the back of the car. No time for lengthy good-byes, to my regret (though perhaps that was easier than an extended, tearful parting.) A quick kiss, a hug and words of love and off I ran into the terminal. How long would the line be? Could I still make my flight?

Imagine my surprise and tremendous relief when I entered the terminal and saw that there was not a single person in line at the check-in counter. Not one! And three helpful employees waiting to get me checked in. I dashed up to the counter, out of breath, apologizing for my lateness. The ladies calmly assured me that everything was fine, that there was still plenty of time--no need to worry. Oh, those words were music to my ears! They got me checked in quickly and I proceeded to the security clearance--another potential bottleneck. But again, God was watching over me and there were only a couple people ahead of me. I sailed through security and reached my gate, with 20 minutes to spare!! Wow, was I relieved! I hadn't had time to eat anything or even shave, but I could take care of all that at my first layover in San Francisco. The most important issue--making the first flight, had been taken care of.

I wouldn't recommend this approach to catching flights. I did get two more hours of sleep than I'd planned, but the stress in those 40 minutes between waking up and reaching the gate were not worth it. I don't think I could have pulled this off at most airports. There are some advantages to flying out of a small airport! The rest of the trip went smoothly and I arrived in St. Petersburg more than 24 hours later, tired but thankful that I had made it. I hope that the return trip will be even less eventful.

1 comment:

  1. 20 minutes! I had a flight out of Wuhan, China that was two hours late. I had to connect in Shanghai to a flight to Chicago and then to Dallas. By the time I got through customs and security and to the end of the terminal there was no time left. I rushed on and they closed the door. It was that close. The amazing thing is my luggage also made it.