i don't know what it is with airplane travel and me lately. after spending a quick 2 great days with my dear friend katie in seattle last week (her wise husband flew me up there on his frequent flier miles for her birthday - we had a barbecue on a west seattle beach and also saw patty griffin play at the woodland park zoo), i had to return to california on a 6 am flight.
i came to instant wakefulness when james came into the living room and said, "audrey we overslept. it's 4:48." so there was a very very slim chance to make the flight if we broke some land speed records. we jumped in his pickup truck and took off. about 3 minutes down the freeway, james said, "i hope we have enough gas." about 1 minute later, we discovered that we did not. we coasted down the exit ramp, and managed to roll 3 or 4 blocks to an intersection where the gas station was on the far corner. "please turn green, please turn green" james prayed. but it stayed red and the engine died right there. leaving me to stay with the truck (what else was i supposed to do? i was still trying to figure out where i was), he ran over there and bought a plastic gas can. i watched him run out of the store and up to a pump. he stood there for a few minutes and then ran to the next pump. i wondered what he was doing. he ran back inside, came back out and filled the can. he ran back over, emptied it into the tank. once we got rolling again, he explained that the annoying quirk he discovered about his credit card is that it doesn't work before 6 am. stupid credit card. at this point, i had conceded defeat and was talking about getting onto another later flight. james, a seasoned business traveller, insisted that there was still a chance and that it might be hard to get onto another flight. at that point he took the wrong freeway exit - i can only guess because of the early hour and the amount of drama that had transpired already. so we were lost for about 5 minutes before he discovered the road back to the airport.
now i really think that it's a lost cause, but i jumped out and rushed to the the self check in counter anyway. the agent said to try to print my boarding pass anyway, and it miraculously does. i then ran over to the security line which is, of course, long. i tried to cajole the first-class short line guy to let me through, but he said i needed an airline agent to escort me. i ran back to the agent i talked to but he said there weren't any agents to spare. "thanks for nothing, buddy" i thought and trudged back to the line for the common people. i went through faster than i expected - at this point the plane is boarding and i started getting stressed out because i'm so close. as i go through the x-ray machine, they scan my backpack twice, and what am i going to do, get mad at them? then i just miss the tram to the north terminal. 2 minutes tick by and i'm sure the gate is closed. i get on the next tram and then sprint from the doors, up the escalator to my gate. it is somehow still open. it is 5:50 at this point. "miss molina?" the agent states. this is not a question really, i am the last passenger and who else would be running up in such a frenzy? incredulous that i made the flight, i dash down the jet way and collapse into my seat, and out of breath.
immediately, the stewardess said on the intercom, "we'll be taking off shortly folks, the door was closed and we had to reopen it again for passengers, but now we are ready to go." re-open the door? i thought once the door was closed for a flight, it stayed closed. the agent must have called and opened it for me. unbelievable!
no one should have to experience that much drama before 6 am.