I'll preface this whole post with a smattering of gratitude in saying that I am incredibly grateful, thankful, happy that I GET to travel, at all, at any time in the world, let alone during what still seems to be the midst of a pandemic. It is truly 'first world problems' of which I speak but the idea behind it all can be applied to any aspect of our life when things seem to go awry.
That being said . . . every. last. trip. I have taken this year has had either: a delay, a cancellation, mis-routed/delayed bags, or all of the aforementioned.
My last trip of the fabulous year we shall call 2021, took me to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to catch up with a group of some AMAZING women. It was at a retreat called The Sleepover, which was just over two days, and ended with a second, unplanned, sleepover of the not-so-exciting sort.
I was sitting in the Nashville airport, mask snugly in place between sips of water. My bag was checked, I'd grabbed some food, and my phone was charged and loaded with some great podcasts to get me through the flight to Denver where I would connect to Great Falls, MT.
'Denver passengers, there are some mechanical issues and the plane we are waiting on will be delayed.' Delayed it was indeed, and delayed some more. . .by about 3 hours, which meant my 45 minute connection was hopelessly and completely shot. To boot, there were no other flights from Denver to Great Falls that day on that airline, or any other airline. Of all the things I enjoy about living in a small city, limited flights is not one of them.
Upon finally arriving in Denver I was pissy, I was bitchy, I was tired. I feared I was becoming smelly, and worst of all. . .I was hungry. (Ask my significant other what the combo of tired and hungry does to me and watch his eyes grow large.) Other than the hungry I rarely get in moods like this, it just isn't 'me', I don't like being 'that a$$hole' of a person. I breathed deeply and reminded myself that the flight crew was not excited about the situation either.
I felt (and was) totally out of control of the situation. I like to plan things and like having things go as planned (although at this point in my life I should know that they rather often do NOT and just expect it).
Speaking to a customer service rep got me a re-booked flight for the following day. It did not get me my checked bag. Apparently it is 'inconvenient' to get the bags back to their owners and re-check them the next day. My hungry inner monster was ready to scream. I felt I completely identified with the toddler behind me who had thrown himself upon the floor and began screaming at the top of his lungs but I knew that my following suit would end with me in a psych ward at best and in jail at worst. Being the kind and understanding person that I attempt to be, I held my tongue. 'It's not their fault, you don't really want to fly on a plane with mechanical issues, it's not that serious, no one is going to die'. My inner voice repeated over and over.
I received a meal voucher and directions to the shuttle pick up area where I stood for 20 minutes with a group that seemed to represent every other small town in Montana and Idaho: Bozeman, Missoula, Butte, Helena, Boise. I was still grumpy and VERY HUNGRY. We were shuttled by a driver who appeared too young to have a license to the 'airport hotel' that was actually 8 miles from the airport (what the?). By this time I felt and realized that I was literally and figuratively along for the ride.
Another misplaced soul and I, a lady from the Missoula area, walked down the street, through a truck stop to Denny's. I think the last time I was at a Denny's was in college and we were scrounging for quarters to pay for our coffee. Later, with a belly full of chicken fried steak and eggs, I began to breathe again and look around. I was back in my room with only the clothing on my back and my tote bag. My stomach was full, the bed was clean, I was safe. I would get home tomorrow. While I didn't have fresh clothing I did have a hot shower and the toothbrush that is gifted when your flight does not go as planned. Was anything really so bad? Really?
The 'cure' for the distress that comes from pining for what you don't have is recognizing all of the things that you DO have. Food, shelter, safety, clothing (dirty/wrinkled or not), water, a phone, a credit card, a warm bed, fresh air to breathe, new plans for a new day, and the wisdom gained from the experience were all things that I had and that many people would give their right arm for. I had allowed myself to have my inner hissy moment (I think it is important to allow frustration at times) now it was time to be grateful and get my butt in my clean and safe bed.
I mean, seriously, a missed connection in the scheme of today's world is hardly a crisis and a heap of gratitude for what WAS right smacked me in the face with that fact.
I'll be trying to book alternate flights in the future as that same 45 minute layover has caught me more than once this year. I will get a small roller bag with all of the things they say you should put in a carry-on but I've never felt the need to as it has never been an issue. I will 'pivot' into a 'new normal' for travel and remind myself each time that I GET to.
And I will, on more occasions than the periodical inconvenience, remind myself to be GRATEFUL for all that IS right.
Back in Montana the next afternoon, after getting through the longest security line EVER in Denver I waited and waited for my bag to come down the carousel. It was the last one off, but it made it. . . and so did I.