This morning I woke up at 8 am. Which was a problem because my flight was taking off at 8 am.
I have been on hundreds of flights, and I’ve never missed one before. I suppose that’s what happens when you book an early flight the day after a holiday party, though.
I’m visiting my dear friends in Mexico for the week, and since I booked my flights pretty last minute- I had to get creative. Detroit has lousy connections, so I picked a flight from Chicago to Cabo. I figured I could just catch an early flight from Detroit and make it to Chicago in time for my 2pm flight. It was risky, but totally do-able.
When I got home from my company’s holiday party, I debated staying up until my flight but thought it would be best to just “rest my eyes for a bit.”
I realized how terrible of an idea that was when a text from my roommate wishing me safe travels woke me up at the same time my flight was departing.
I darted around my room muttering “fuck, fuck, fuck” and throwing things into my suitcase. (I had the ambitious idea that I would pack for my trip in the morning before heading to the airport. Another poor decision.)
I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry, but I didn’t have time for either of those so I went into crisis management mode instead. There were no other flights that would get me into Chicago in time for my 2pm flight. No train or bus either, and I didn’t know of anyone driving there today. I don’t own a car, but realized that would be my best chance at making my afternoon flight, so I rented one.
By 9:30 am I had acquired a snow covered little blue car with Texas plates, and I hit the road.
The drive between Ann Arbor (where I live) and Chicago is about 4 hours so I had almost no margin for traffic or winter roads. I was taking a big risk, but I really didn’t want to have to rebook my flights. Luckily, the sun was shining, the roads were clear and the traffic was moving. I drove much faster than I probably should have been driving, but I was making really good time. Things were looking up!
Then, of course, with about 30 minutes left of my drive, the gas light went on. I really didn’t have the time to get off the highway and get gas, so I just kept going. The gas light is just a warning, right?
I started to get more and more nervous the closer I got to the airport. With about 10 minutes left the gas light started blinking and I knew I had a problem on my hands, but at this point I was nowhere near a gas station. (Should I just rename this post: Poor Decisions?)
Now, I’m not a gambler but today was already so full of taking risks, I figured one more couldn’t hurt.
About a minute away from the car rental drop off the car started making some funky sounds and started slowing down, and I held onto the wheel for dear life as if I could somehow will it to keep going. And it did.
I pulled into the car return port, amazed at how perfect the timing was. There’s no way that car would have made it another mile. I handed over my keys and hopped into mama Kulka’s car (mom to the rescue!) and we sped towards the United Terminal.
She handed me a Tupperware of her homemade persimmon walnut bread, and I raced to the check in counter with my glorious food in hand. I was going to make it!
I scanned my passport and to my surprise, I saw a message pop up on the screen, “No reservation found for this passenger.”
How could this be? I could not have gone through this entire ordeal and not have a flight. I aged a couple years in just one morning, and it couldn’t be for nothing.
Fortunately, I realized that my flustered self had just gotten the airlines mixed up and I was just at the wrong terminal. The bad news was that time was still of the essence, and I broke a sweat just thinking about how fast I would need to move in order to make it to the next terminal. For the umpteenth time today, luck was on my side. My mother is a very smart lady and very good at this airport drop off thing, so she had waited out front, “just in case.”
With her help, and the help of TSA precheck, I made it to my gate with time to spare.
I’m currently on my flight to Cabo, smiling to myself about how sometimes in life, “things just work out.”
Congrats on the making the flight and writing the suspenseful story! Have a great trip
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