The Three Hour Stopover (The Journey, part 3)

It is said that when men make plans, God laughs.

On this trip my plans included a 3 hour stopover window at my first port of call in the United States. Plenty of time to change planes and have something to eat. As I said in a previous post, I’m not a fan of airline food and with the early start and all the airport hassle, I like to wait and have a decent meal when I arrive at my destination.

Plenty of time?

Well there would have been if everything had been on time.

Apparently on the first trans-Atlantic part of my journey we had been fighting fairly strong headwinds most of the flight so we arrived in the US with less than 30 minutes to grab the connecting flight instead of 3 hours.

Thankfully Immigration and Customs had been taken care of before departure, otherwise there wouldn’t have been even the slightest chance of making my connection.

Of course, the day we were late was the day they’d parked my first plane about a mile away from the departure gate for the connection, and the gate was almost closing already.

I could have chilled out and just deliberately missed the connection and taken the next flight, I’ve had to do that before, but it arrived very late at my final destination and I thought I would rather get to my hotel as early as possible – it had been a very long day already.

I spoke to an official looking person, (a person in a uniform), explaining that I had to get to gate C31 within the next 10 minutes. I had come in at gate A2, I think. She just laughed. There was no chance.

Then I spotted an electric cart. It didn’t have a driver and for a moment I considered hijacking it, but just then the driver did saunter up and I explained my plight.

“Don’t know if we can make it, it’s a long, long way, but we’ll sure as hell give it a go. I can take you part of the way.” It’s wonderful what a few bucks can do!

So off we set, as fast as the cart would go, which, when you’re in a hurry doesn’t seem that fast. But we were moving and it was a lot quicker than walking.

For some reason in airports there is very little or no protocol for walking from A to B. Some people walk down the right side, others the left, and quite a number wander down the middle of the road oblivious to everything.

When you are on foot it’s noticeable too. If you choose to go with the flow and, for example, walk on the right hand side you progress well, for while. Until, that is, all of a sudden all the traffic seems to be coming from the opposite direction, towards you, and you find yourself like a motorist going up a one way street the wrong way.

I’ve never figured out who gives the signal to change sides, or how it is done, but it happens – always. Maybe there’s something like a dog whistle, audible only to the illogical and disorganised? Or maybe it’s something in the genes, you know, the thing that makes large flocks of birds or shoals of fish all turn in the same direction all at the same time. If you know the secret, do tell.

So there I was on the cart, hanging on to it with one hand and to my bag with the other, at the same time kicking out vigorously at stupid pedestrians who had to walk in the middle of the road, and wouldn’t get out of the way. I have to say too that I was swearing like the proverbial trooper.

Elegant it was not!

But with a quick change of vehicles and drivers on the way, I actually made it to the gate – red faced no doubt, and with literally seconds to spare!

But I had battled adversity and this time I had won!

At least I thought I had.

It was another one of those fleeting moments of triumph.

As I sat in my seat (an aisle one this time) waiting for takeoff, I wondered about my luggage.

Oh, no! My luggage….




Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.

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