Living the traveler’s nightmare…and surviving

It’s probably a common nightmare. You wake up, look at your clock and realize you’ve overslept and you’ve missed your flight or exam or blown a critical job interview. There’s that feeling of hopelessness as you realize there is no way now to reach your destination on time.  Well, I’m here to tell you that I recently lived that nightmare.  Even more importantly, I survived it.

I was on my way back from the East Coast. My plane departed from the Philadelphia airport at 6:33 AM. My sister lives in Atlantic City, which is easily an hour from the airport. She would have had to have gotten up about 3:30 AM to have gotten me to my flight on time.  I would not trust my sister to drive me down her driveway after she had to get up at that hour. So she drove me to an airport hotel the night before the flight.

Now as we all know, there are two kinds of travelers in this world.  I am one of those people who wants to be at the airport at least an hour before my flight. The rest of you are the ones leaping over small children to get to your gate as they are closing the door.

I left a request for a 4:30 AM wakeup call.  I laid out my clothes, got the coffeepot ready, had my insulin drawn up, the cover off the soap, and the cap loosened on the shampoo before I went to bed. Did I mention that I was also a bit obsessive-compulsive?

What happened next is open to debate between me and the hotel clerk. They swear they called me. As someone who does not sleep soundly the night before an early flight, I swear they didn’t. What we do know for sure is that when I finally turned over and looked at the clock it was 5:59 AM. 

Now here’s the good part about all this. Unlike in the dream, the world doesn’t turn to molasses when you try and move fast after this happens. I pulled my clothes over my nightgown while frantically brushing my hair, taking my insulin and screaming at the desk clerk to get someone up there ASAP.

As the man pushed the luggage cart to the elevator, I was still zipping it up and tying my shoes. We shot off for the airport at about 90 miles per hour.  I’m not absolutely sure cause my eyes were closed most of the time, but I think we ran all the red lights.

At the airport, the driver pushed past everyone else and got a skycap to check me in immediately. As I raced up the escalator, I looked down and found I still had the tip money for those two wonderful men in my hand. I apologize to them now but there was no way to turn back.

I did OJ leaps all the way to security, raced down to the gate and boarded the plane as they were closing the door. It was 6:25 AM.

This experience taught me two things. One, living out your worst nightmare is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it shows that you do, in fact, have some control over the outcome.  Two, I was right all along about getting to the airport early. 

Now you’ll have to excuse me.  I have an appointment with my Rolfer who is going to try to repair the damage I did while leaping over suitcases in the airport. I guess I really shouldn’t do that before my first cup of coffee – or after it for that matter.