Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Rest of the Story--Almost

Okay, so here's more of my horrid travel tale. As I said at the end of my last blog, I made my way to the gate in Denver to await my flight.

And await.

And await.

And...get the picture??

Now, lest you think all we did was sit, let me clarify. The flight was supposed to leave around 6:05 or so. Around 7 they finally said it was time to board. So down the flight bridge we went. I was actually first in line, and as I approached the plane I saw something I'd never, in over 20 years of flying, seen before. The plane was dark.

As in pitch black.

Just as I peer in the doorway, the pilot sticks his head out of the cockpit, sees me, and starts shaking his head. "Oh, no no no. What you are guys doing here? We're not even close to ready!"
So we all about-face, and head back up the flight bridge to the gate area, where the gate agent apologizes profusely and ushers us all back to our seats.

To wait.


Hey, here's an interesting tidbit of info. Did you know you need a big power cord to plug the plane into so they can start the engine? I didn't either. But wouldn't you think the airline folks would know and make sure this cord was present and accounted for? Yuh huh. Unfortunately, not only was our plane's cord missing, they couldn't find an extra one anywhere in the terminal. ANYWHERE! So there we sat, waiting. And when the co-pilot came out to sit with us because he was freezing because the plane had NO POWER which meant no heat...well, we all lost it. Laughed so hard we were crying.
(Okay, I confess some of us were bordering on hysterical, but hey, we were still laughing!)

I mean, it was so ridiculous, we couldn't help it. The co-pilot actually went back on the plane and came back out to sit with us three times. Well, they did eventually find the cord, and we did eventually arrive in N'ville. At 10:30 pm. A mere NINE HOURS later than my original arrival time.

Happily, my bags were waiting for me in the United baggage office. I could see them, sitting right there, next to the glass door. Unhappily, the office was closed. Lights out. No one in sight.
I leaned my forehead on the glass, closed my eyes, and sighed. Please...

I lifted one hand and knocked. Much to my amazement, a woman came trotting from the back and pulled the door open. I was so grateful I almost wept. She smiled and ushered me inside, speaking words of gentle comfort. Who knew a United baggage office could be an oasis? I found refreshment in her demeanor, and when I walked out with my bags, her, "Have a great night!" lifted my heart even more. Such simple words; such power to ease a weary heart.

Surely, you say, that was it. Your trip horrors were over. Oh, that I could say it were so. But I can't, as you'll see in the next blog. But what I can say is that in all that came after the flight, after all those delays and the change of route and more delays, is this:

As strong as frustration and anger can be, positive attitudes and kindness are far more powerful. And they're contagious. I was weary, yes. I was even frustrated. But the faces and laughter I'd seen that day stayed with me. The compassion. The reaching out instead of focusing inward. And each time I came close to losing it, I remembered what I'd seen that day, and chose instead to respond as they had. Amazingly, though the circumstances didn't necessarily improve, it was okay. Tiring, yes. Even frustrating. But my usual companion in such situations--anger--never joined me. And I have to say, looking back on it now, that was a blessing. Because anger brings its own baggage with it. Baggage that's so much heavier than anything else, that weighs you down and drags you in the mud.

And, almost always, splashes that mud on everyone you meet.

To go through a day like that and actually be at peace...that, friends, wasn't just a miracle. It was one of the greatest blessings I've ever experienced.


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