My flight was at 6:30. My plan was to leave home at 5:00. I knew that would give me plenty of time. I only live about twenty five minutes away.
One thing and another, I was just on the freeway at 5:30. Still, no worries. It was too early for traffic. I cruised along in the early darkness, parked in the economy lot, took the shuttle bus.
Only when I got in line for security did I realize I had a problem. It was 6:15, they were boarding, and would be shutting the door in five minutes.
Once through security I grabbed my belt and my shoes and my laptop and my suitcase all at once and ran in stocking feet to the gate. There was no line. The plane was still there. The ramp was still there. But when I said to the guy at the gate, Am I too late, he said, Yes, sir. He went on to explain there were procedures blah blah but I didn’t care, I was late, it was my fault, no need for him to ease my mind with explanations.
I put on my shoes and went to the counter. All flights to New Orleans, without exception, were sold out. She spent the next half hour on her computer trying to concoct likely scenarios but the fact was there are no direct flights between Sacramento and New Orleans and no matter which flight I tried to get on standby, there’d be another attempt at standby at the next airport, and the odds of my actually making it were shrinking fast.
Finally she found she could hold a seat to Houston, from where I had three chances to catch a last-minute cancellation to New Orleans. By now I had been mad at myself and turned that into anger at the world and at family “obligations” and was ready to give up and just not go. It was a stupid childish emotional state. But when I was faced with the decision to commit to a flight to Houston without knowing if I’d get any further, I decided to go for it. How could I not? I was calming down by now and realizing I didn’t have to be such a baby.
Besides. “Obligations?” I was going to New Orleans, for heaven’s sake, and to honor my brother’s partner of forty years. How could I quit that?
It was a short flight to Las Vegas, where I disembarked and wandered through the gate area with an hour before my connecting flight. On a whim I looked at the departure board, and saw there a flight directly to New Orleans. I went to the gate in question and told her my story and asked if, you know. She looked at her screen and said come back at nine thirty and we’ll see what we can do. I went and got myself a breakfast samminch.
At nine twenty seven I heard my name and went to the counter. She handed me a boarding pass. I wasn’t going to Houston at all. Here I come to the Crescent City! I told her she saved the day. I was happy. She looked happy. The sun smiled on McCarran International Airport.