Wednesday night Jeff and I returned from our Christmas trip to Louisville. And while we hadn’t planned on it, we ended up having a bit of a practice run (and I do mean that literally) for our upcoming RTW trip.
As anyone who has traveled before knows, things don’t always go according to plan. You can research all you want, make only the wisest and most well-thought decisions, and yet, something can still go wrong. Planes are late. Traffic jams occur. Strikes happen. You fall ill. Your luggage gets lost. Your dream destination actually turns out to be a nightmare.
One of the biggest lessons the road teaches you is that you can’t control everything. Life happens. And sometimes life is messy. Patience is required. A sense of humor is mandatory. “Being Zen” is something I’m working on–learning to let go, to accept things as they are, to not get my panties all in a wad over things I can’t control. (Does anyone else hate the word panties like I do? If that wasn’t a common phrase, I would have opted for the much more dignified term underwear.)
So anyhow, back to Wednesday night. In order to make the most of our holiday, we’d booked an evening flight back home.–8:20 p.m. to be exact. It was a direct flight on Southwest to BWI. Once at BWI, we would use public transportation to get back home. Now public transportation isn’t necessarily the most efficient way of getting around but we opted for it because A) it’s free for us thanks to the commuter benefits we each get through work, and B) it’s better for the environment. Also, public transportation will be our primary means of travel on our trip so we might as well get used to it. With our flight scheduled to arrive at 9:45 and with all our luggage carried on, we shouldn’t have had any trouble making the 10:20 bus. This bus would take us to the Greenbelt Metro station, from where we would take the Green Line to Gallery Place, at which point we’d switch to the Red Line and ride it to our stop, arriving at home right around midnight. If we missed this bus, well, um, uh… But wait, who cares, we weren’t going to miss this bus. We had plenty of time. Heck, maybe we’d get lucky and the plane would be early and we’d make the 9:40 bus. We had a great plan.
Well, we all know about those best laid plans of mice and men. Yeah, that’s right, they often go awry. It started off with a 10 minute delay. No big deal. But the 10 minute delay stretched and stretched and stretched until it was about a 30 minute delay. Our plane was late arriving because of other delayed connections in Chicago, and then we had to load and get the luggage onboard and all that jazz. Now, I’m all for airlines holding a plane for a few minutes for passengers delayed by another flight–we all know how much it sucks to miss a connection–but I can’t say it didn’t make me a bit frustrated. Just like that the 35 minutes we had between our plane landing and our bus leaving was down to single digits.
But what could I do? We grabbed seats in row six, the closest to the front we could get, and just hoped for the best. No amount of arm flapping would make the plane go any faster. When we landed, luck seemed to be at least a little bit on our sides. We had 15 minutes. And it looked like we were headed straight for gate A1, which would have popped us out right by the airport exit. But at the last minute, we turned, and started rolling further and further away from the exit, all the way to the gate at the very end of the terminal. To top it off, another plane was blocking the way, so we had to sit idle for another couple of minutes before we could get to that far, far away gate. The anxiety level was high, I admit, and I had to physically stop myself from checking Jeff’s watch every few seconds.
As soon as the plane was at the gate, we hopped up and prepared to get our butts and our bags off the plane, down the terminal, and onto the bus. But, oh no, not so fast. The people in the front row decide to take their sweet, sweet time getting off the plane. Which is all fine and dandy unless you’re blocking the entire freaking aisle so no one can disembark. Courtesy, people, courtesy. If you’re not ready to go, keep your butt snug in its seat until everyone else is off. Then you can mosey your way off the plane at your own chosen speed.
Eventually, of course, we did make it off the plane and started running like madmen through the airport, swerving around slowpokes and those families who are apparently only able to walk in a horizontal line that spreads across the entire terminal. My heart was racing wildly and I was breathing like I’d just climbed Mt. Everest, but I felt like I was running through water. I wasn’t going anywhere fast. Let me tell you, even if your luggage is on wheels, hauling an extra 30+ pounds plus a shoulder bag is not easy. At this point, it’s save yourself, so I yell to Jeff to go on without me. Naturally, he’s a bit faster, and I’m hoping that if he can get to the bus, he can get the driver to wait the extra minute or two it will take me to get there.
Soon I’ve lost sight of him, as I run, run, run what seems like miles and then pop out into the cold and dash madly in front of the incoming traffic. Thankfully no one runs over me. I spot Jeff. And then I spot the B30. It’s barreling right past him. Shit.
But, wait, the bus makes two stops here at the airport. We have one more chance. We just have to make it all the way to the other side of arrivals faster than the bus can get there and load however many passengers are waiting. No problem, right?
And so once again, we’re off. This time we don’t even bother making our way over to the the sidewalk, but dash along right on the edge of the road. It’s a long curve, and I keep expecting to see the bus stop up ahead, but it’s always just a bit further. Finally, I spot it, and it’s there. The bus is there. Still loading. Again, I tell Jeff to go on ahead, and he takes off, running as if his life depended on it. As he nears the end of the bus, the doors shut. The bus is ready to depart again, without us. But before it can pull away, Jeff charges to the doors and bangs on them until the driver re-opens them. I, about 20 yards behind, hustle up while he stalls on the stairs. As the bus lurches away into the night, I pay my fare.
Today I’m still trying to catch my breath.
But we made it.
On our RTW trip, I know they’ll be times when we aren’t as lucky. At some point, we’ll run as hard as we can only to be left panting, hands on our knees, staring at the tail lights disappearing down the road. I can only hope that this won’t happen too often and that when it does, we’re Zen enough not to let it ruin our trip for long and savvy enough to figure out what to do next. Even if that’s just sitting and waiting for the next bus to roll up.