It was approximately 10:10 when the plane touched the tarmac at LAX and my flight to SFO was in 45 minutes. The plane slowly taxied to its assigned gate. I looked outside studying the numbers of gates on the outside. 72. 71. 70. My SFO gate 76 should be there somewhere. Somewhere.
The plane was already 30 minutes late.
I could feel my head tense, plotting my escape from the window seat of the 21st row. Do I push my way forward, demanding to let through, past the haughty passengers of first class and economy plus? Do I yell shamelessly about my plight in catching my connecting flight.
The plane connected with the gate and I heard the swish of the door. And the rustling of passengers. The click of the seatbelt and I stared in front, silently begging that passengers be noble in their pursuit of deboarding. No blocking the aisle. They want to get out of the metal tube as much as I did. This ain’t vacation. So hurry it up.
I check the United app again. 10:27 it said when the boarding would end. Did my credit card cover this? Did I use my Chase card to cover this flight? How will I make it to the 11:00 AM meeting? Would I even be able to sleep if I had to stay in LA? I mean…
I tapped messages to Chris who was relaxing at the SFO lounge. “I might be stuck in LA,” I wrote.
Time always moves slowly in moments of anxiety. My fellow neighbors noticed my fidgeting and said kindly, “Please. Go ahead.”
I thanked them profusely as I pushed forward. My backpack swinging and a paper bag teetering in my left hand. With a swift motion, I grabbed my rollaway. In the rush, I pulled the handle up and dropped it. I picked it up. Buckled my backpack so that it was firmly against my body. In preparation. I tailgated people in front of me, trying to be respectful, but now inhaling deeply for the next moments.
I spin to my left upon entering the terminal. And ran. I sprinted, my eyes following the signs for gates 70 – 79. Swaying left, then another left turn, down the gate, pass the eateries, past gate 70, past gate 71. I wondered what people thought as I had never ran as hard as I have in the last 20 years. Dying like Peter Gregory in HBO’s Silicon Valley crossed my mind, but a hippo isn’t chasing me. My bag flew with me and I felt
But then within a minute, I just couldn’t run any longer. I slowed down to a walk. I realized my gate 76 was all the way at the end. I took a deep breath and jogged now at a slower pace. In the distance, I saw the gate. A lone man stood there, waiting. Was that the final boarding call?
“Is it still open?” I asked breathlessly.
I struggled to get my digital boarding pass up. “Am I the last one to board?” I asked and placed my iPod touch on the scanner.
“I think so,” he said in calm tone.
I walked now and the attendants smiled at me. “Be careful with your bag,” one said as I swung around the corner, still breathing hard.
“I have the window seat,” I said, upon arriving at row 23.
“You made it,” my seat partner said. “You made it.”
I started wondering if this story was even interesting, knowing that I was never the only one that experienced travel struggles.
But I sighed instead and started watching the free entertainment provided on the plane.