So, I had a flight to catch this last Friday morning at 7:35 in the morning. Spring (not that there is such a season in Phoenix AFAIK) break meant the University was closed for a week, and I thought it might be a good idea to visit my sister.
So, I had decided that starting from my place at 6:00 am, should be good enough. It would take ten minutes to the rail station by walk, a five minute wait for the train. The train would take fifteen minutes to reach the station. From there, the airport shuttle would tale ten minutes including the wait time. There is hardly any queue for security checks in Phoenix, so the boarding pass and security should not take more than five minutes put together. That added up to 45 minutes. All going fine, I should have been at the Gate with plenty of time to spare.
The trouble started the previous night. After a late project meeting, I came home only at around 1:30 am in the morning. By the time, I had packed, and decided to go to sleep, it was 3:00 am in the morning already. Generally, if I don’t sleep by 3:00 am for a 7:35 flight, I don’t sleep. Last time over, I watched three movies back to back to stay awake, and managed to board the flight. This time over though, I had not slept well in a few days, and I was not able to keep myself awake. After all, I should be able to wake up I thought – I had set my alarm, had called my brother in London to wake me up, my brother in law in California to wake me up. See, I even had a backup, and a backup for the backup. 😀
So, I get a call in the morning at 5:30 am from my brother, asking me to wake up, and wishing me a happy journey. Little did he know that immediately after he hung up, I was not able to so much as lift my head from the pillow. So, I continued sleeping. What happened for the next hour I have no idea of. I did not hear the alarms. I did not hear my brother in law’s three calls. Finally, for some reason, I woke up at 6:30 am and checked my clock. Shit!!!! In the next eight minutes, I was able to shake myself out of sleep, managed to finish my morning bathroom duties, brush my teeth, get dressed and get the hell out of the house. I walked as fast as I could towards the rail station. I was constantly wishing that I didn’t see a train leave just as I was approaching the station. As soon as I reached the rail station, I tried hurriedly to get myself a ticket from the vending machine. And what do you know, it will not accept any of my cards. I am not ashamed of saying this, but I generally do not carry any cash with me. None at all. Thankfully, this morning I had a 5 dollar bill in my bag. I quickly bought myself a one ride ticket, and was hoping the train would be in the station any minute. It was 6:50 am already, and I was panicking. The train arrived somewhere in the next few minutes, and took an eternity to reach the airport. When I checked the time on reaching the airport, it was 7:15 already. I was hoping I would still be able to make it. After all, it should only take another 15 minutes tops to reach the gate. And even then, I would have 5 minutes left. Now, see this is called cutting it very very fine. If you were in certain businesses, this would be a remarkable skill to have. Not when you are trying to board a plane, I am afraid.
So, I rush towards the Airport shuttle, and there is one waiting. I get on it, and wish that it would move. Wrong! There is no driver in it. I wait a full five minutes in agony, knowing that now it would be very very fine indeed. The driver gets in, and finally the shuttle moves. I reach the terminal in about seven minutes, hoping to get through security and run to the gate. This is when I am in for the second shock. As soon as I enter the terminal, I see swarms of people waiting in queues to check their luggage in. I am generally very composed, and it takes quite a bit to get me ruffled. Well, a combination of drowsiness, weariness, panic collectively achieve that. I stood frozen for almost a full minute. I finally managed to find the kiosk to get the boarding pass. Whaddayaknow!! There are four people in queue in front of me. It was 7:25 now. See, if there had been more people I would definitely have spoken to them, and made sure I got my boarding pass ahead of the others. But 4 is the kind of number that makes you wonder if its worth talking to people to get ahead of them. I mean, you might end up spending more time explaining the situation to them, than if you just waited your turn. I mean, what if someone wanted you to explain again, and worse still after all that trouble, would not let you go through ? So, I waited my turn cursing myself under the breath. The next shock was waiting for me in the form of a long queue in the security area. There were at least 15 people ahead of me. This time over, I was just bogged down. It was 7:28. I couldn’t possibly explain to 15 people that I was running late for my flight. So I waited, knowing that I was doomed.
I was finally done with the security screening and reached the gate at about 7:35, give or take 30 seconds. I asked the gentleman at the booth, if I had missed my flight, and he was only all too cheerful in replying that indeed I had. It was a moment of helplessness. I am sure there are a thousand things I could have done right to make sure I had been on that plane – something as simple as tell someone at the Southwest booth that they ask the person at the gate to wait just for a minute. Even Americans are not that punctual. But I hadn’t. Thankfully for me, the gentleman was able to find me a seat on the next plane that was to leave in an hour. I called my brother in law and told him I was going to be late.