I have a riddle for you: Ruth’s flight into Miami gets delayed landing because of weather (thanks, Mother Nature.) Eventually, her flight lands at 9:20 p.m. Consequently, at the same time her next flight, her flight to Chile, begins boarding. The fun part: the gate for her next flight is in a separate terminal on the complete opposite end of the airport, meaning she has to exit and re-enter security (gross). Ruth is not a fast runner, especially not when she’s weighed down with luggage. Does she make it to her next flight?
Answer: yes. But certainly not without a lot of sprinting, cursing and weird looks from passersby. I promise, I’m not bitter.
As I write this, I am sitting in Santiago, Chile’s airport, drinking the best coffee I have ever had. What’s the secret to Chile’s amazing coffee, you may ask? Getting exactly one hour of sleep. Again, I’m not bitter.
After arriving at the airport around 6:30 a.m. on a dark, frosty Chilean morning, I promptly ate some breakfast, found a quiet, isolated bench, and power-napped for two hours, before grabbing a coffee and sitting down to entertain you all with my travel troubles. However, I have more than just complaints for you, today. Actually, a lot more.
Despite every obstacle that’s come up in the past 24 hours, never have I found myself surrounded by such kind, welcoming strangers. On the way to Miami, I sat beside a Bolivian woman and a Brazilian woman, the Bolivian woman consistently reminding me to stop cracking my knuckles or my hands will become ugly, and the Brazilian woman asking for advice on how to pronounce “Sarasota.” Upon landing, the Brazilian woman and her daughter ran with me halfway to my gate to ensure I found it. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have.
At the security checkpoint, sweating and on the verge of tears, I met three gentlemen who let me cut in front of them in line so that I could get to my gate sooner. When it looked like it was still going to take a while, one of the gentlemen leaned across the rail and pleaded to the TSA officer, “please sir, this young lady is limited on time.” Without hesitation, the TSA officer called over a colleague and told him to take me to the front of the line. The officer escorted me to the front of the line, and I was in and out of security in about a minute. Shoutout to Miami TSA.
With a couple minutes to spare, I finally arrived at my gate and was the last one to board the plane. I found my seat, plopped down with relief and let myself breathe for the first time in about three hours. Fortunately, the seat in between me and the woman on the aisle was empty, and she raised the arm rests and told me with a smile that I could put my legs on it if I wanted, she didn’t mind. I settled in, put on an Anne Hathaway movie, and actually enjoyed my eight hour flight to Santiago.
The moral of the story is: Getting to your destination may be half the battle, but it’s also a journey in and of itself. It won’t be without its challenges, but it will be an adventure as well as a learning experience, as long as you maintain a positive attitude. So take some time, breathe and get to know the stranger sitting next you on the plane. If you have a question, ask somebody. Read a book, or five. Look out the window, and admire the view. Take those hours spent trapped on a plane with a hundred other people, and make something of it. I promise it will make your journey a little bit easier, no matter how many problems you encounter. Did I mention that in my hurry, I nearly left my computer at the security checkpoint, and then managed to spill some coffee on it? #hotmess.