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.”