I bet you weren’t expecting to hear from me two times this weekend, yet here I am. Well guess what? I was expecting to be on a plane halfway across the world right now, hours from landing in Sydney, Australia. If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you’d be familiar with my trip to Australia. If not, that’s fine–in fact, you don’t even really need to read them before reading this one.
I haven’ t really planned this blog post out, just like I didn’t plan to spend twenty-four hours in San Francisco, delaying my flight by a day. It’s okay, though, because sometimes going with the flow is the best way to live.
For those of you that know me well, you know I’m a meticulous, OCD planner. I’ve been planning since before I could ever spell “intinerary” or “schedule.” If something doesn’t go like I have it imagined in my head, my reaction can be extreme. I’ve learned something very valuable in this last day and I’d like to share it with you.
Let me give you a bit of the background story to begin. By now, you know that I am headed to Australia. Sweet! I left from Greenville, South Carolina yesterday evening and flew to my connector flight in Houston that would bring me to San Francisco to board my international flight to Sydney. I had very, very short layovers and I had–believe it or not–planned my way to success. I studied the airport maps, figured out where I needed to be and how to get there, and counted the time down to the last minute. I was very proud of myself for making my Houston flight (with time to spare to fill up my water bottle!).
So I boarded my flight in Houston and sat in the very back of the plane. Watching the second hand tick along on my watch, I realized–after a while–how long we’d been in the plane. Weren’t we supposed to depart half an hour ago? I got a little worried, but tried not to think about it. I figured I’d still make my connection in San Fran if I hauled ass. After an hour, an announcement was made that the air conditioner on the palne was broken and they were doing their best to fix it so we could depart. Okay, so I wasn’t the only one that was about to have a heat stroke.
Another hour passed and that’s when I began to accept the fact that there was no way I was going to catch my connection unless it was delayed. During this time I began texting my dad to keep him updated as well as my aunt who was supposed to pick me up in Sydney. My dad called me and his first words were, “Everything is going to be okay. Are you okay?” Knowing he was worried about me, I also recognized the tone in his voice that he uses when trying to calm me down when I begin panicking. My god, he thought I was panicking. Over missing a flight!
After we hung up I realized his reaction was justified. After all, I’ve flipped shit over things much sillier and not at all as serious as missing a flight. I can’t name them because there have been so many.
My aunt was also texting me reassuring words during this time, telling me it was just another adventure. My god, she thought I was freaking out too. I smiled to myself, realizing that I wasn’t worried at all. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t freaking out over something going wrong. Sure, I wanted to know what was going on, if my flight was going to be held, or when I could get another flight; other than that, though, my main thoughts consisted of different places I could sleep in an airport.
I was so chill.
Meanwhile, people on the plane were freaking out. Grown men looked like they were about to throw a tantrum, women were complaining nonstop, and I even overheard some guy talking to the steward about missing his flight that was supposed to depart the next day at one in the afternoon. At some points I wanted to yell “YA KNOW I’M MISSING A CONNECTION FOR AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT SO ARE YOUR PROBLEMS REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?” I’ve never flown internationally before, I’m traveling alone, and I’m fresh out of high school. Were their problems really so urgent that they had to be let off the plane? I was reacting a hell of a lot better than the people who were simply worried about arriving home late that night.
With all the negativity (and heat…any fixing that AC yet?), I yearned for a happier environment. It’s not going to help any of us feel better if we keep feeding off of negative vibes. My friend texted me and told me to begin a sing-along; I laughed out loud but decided that wouldn’t be the best idea for a bunch of grumpy, middle-aged travelers. A San Francisco native was sitting behind me and talking excitedly about how he didn’t see this delay as something negative. He was promoting the “que sera sera” belief and I enjoyed hearing him talk.
All the hubub about the AC and the flight being delayed, gave us passengers an opportunity to find comfort in talking to each other. The guy sitting beside me, who had been enveloped in his iPad and phone since I sat down, began speaking to me and we found ourselves cracking jokes about everything. The woman sitting across the aisle had some very passionate views about the situation and began researching certain facts regarding how long we could be held in a plane. It was very interesting to hear her speak with such vivacity and inform me on airport regulations. Then there was the woman directly in front of me who decided to recline her seat all the way back. I didn’t like her that much.
Gradually, the atmosphere began to loosen up as the airplane problems began weeding out the negative passengers as they slowly found their way off the plane. Everyone began feeling better, we were laughing.
We eventually took off and arrived about an hour late (due to time change). I have never craned my neck so hard to see the lights of a city at night. I wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Did I see it? I’m not sure, though I know I saw a very long bridge of some sort. In that moment, as we began landing, my biggest worry was whether or not I could see the iconic bridge for the first time, the first time I had ever been to the west coast.
I missed my flight. It was midnight by the time I made it to customer service to see about amenities. There were no hotel rooms left. They were handing out blankets to older people and younger people alike to find a place to sleep in the airport. Finally it was my turn to see about rescheduling a flight, and hopefully receiving free meal vouchers. I was nice and understanding, regardless of my fatigue (after all it was 3 AM my time). I smiled and gently explained it was my first time flying and if there was any possible way I could have my meals covered or something, anything to make the next day bearable. The man who was serving me, middle-aged, salt and pepper hair, probably a father himself, found me a hotel room. He pulled me aside and gave me my vouchers for food and lodge and explained that I got it by luck and he didn’t want to tell anyone else waiting for information on their missed flights. I don’t think I’ve ever been so lucky in my life.
Would it have been the end of the world if I’d had to sleep in an airport? Nah. In fact, I think it would have been rather badass–almost like a right of apassage for international travelers. I was grateful, though, and I recognized it. I took the chance to take a shower, wash my hair and hand wash some of the clothes I’d been wearing so they’d be clean for my flight to Australia. I got to sleep in a bed, stretch out my blegs, and send postcards from San Fransisco.
Like I said, I hadn’t really planned this post. It didn’t go the way I had originally intended, either. I wanted to kind of teach a lesson, though I think I may have achieved that through my anecdote. On the plane I realized that perspectives are everything and I wrote in my journal, “We’ve been on this plane for two hours now so you can understand peoples’ frustration. It’s just the bright side that we need to look at. Perspectives are everything and I’m learning more and more how they define you as a person. I don’t want to be the person on the plane that people find pretentious and impatient.”