Saturday, June 3, 2017

Misadventures at the Airport

I used to be a punctual person. I'd calculate a precise travel time, accommodate for additional potential delays, and generally arrive 10 minutes early for everything. Somehow, this is no longer the case, and as a result, I'll be spending the next twelve hours at an airport.

The issue isn't really the planning. I knew my flight was at 8am, with about two hours to check in and go through security, plus an hour on public transport to get from my apartment to the airport. Factor in about half an hour to eat breakfast and get ready, and about half an hour just in case anything takes longer than it should, and a 4AM wakeup time is sufficiently reasonable. Of course, my alarm goes off at 4AM and I end it almost out of muscle memory. I wake up to an incredibly annoying bird outside my window. I check the time — 5:30AM. I grab my suitcase and run (thankfully everything was already packed and ready to go); a face wipe later will have to do. Note to self: set multiple alarms.

In my panicked and unthinking state of mind, I set out for the downtown Berkeley BART station. In hindsight, Rockridge is closer and does not require a transfer. It takes 14 minutes to take the bus to downtown Berkeley, another 14 minutes to wait for the train. Another 14 minutes waiting at MacArthur station to transfer onto a train going to SFO. A 40 minute BART ride turns into an hour as the train is stopped and delayed.

I arrive at SFO at 7:30AM. I've already checked in thanks to the power of mobile apps, but no! The gatekeeper at the security checkpoint tells me my carry-on is too big, despite having used that suitcase as a carryon on previous flights. I'm forced to wait in line to check in my bag. The phone rings. An airline representative calls me asking if I'll be joining them for the flight to DCA. I explain my situation but unfortunately there is nothing to be done. At the check in line, the representative tells me there are no more flights to DCA today, but she is able to give me a standby pass for a 2:40PM flight to IAD. I take it, but my seat is not guaranteed. If there are no seats left on that flight by the time I arrive, I'm have no idea what happens. I also pay $25 to have my bag checked, unsure if I'm even going to find it at the airport when I arrive.

I fly through security. It is now 9AM. All things considered, it's not too bad. It's not like I haven't wasted five hours of my life doing nothing on a Saturday before. There was a yoga room that looked promising, but it was actually really small and it smelled weird. I plunk down on a seat and browse social media apps for two hours. I haven't had wifi for the last two days at my new apartment, so there's a lot of content to catch up on. I want to do a #heavythinking post about the things I've learned at therapy, but I'm not sure I have the emotional bandwidth for that right now.

The last few days have been intense: packing up my old apartment, setting up a subletter, working 10 hours a day in San Jose, moving everything back in Berkeley to my new apartment, unpacking and putting away everything in the new apartment, and finally packing for DC. I'm actually quite proud of the fact that I managed to accomplish everything, but it still feels like there's so much more to do. I'm excited to live in the new apartment next year. I was able to arrange everything exactly how I wanted to, more or less; half of my string lights stopped working and one of my command hook shelves fell off the wall, and I still need a lamp and chair, but those are fairly minor issues. I still have some rent issues to sort out, but that can be done in DC.

Even more so, now that I'm at the airport and it's imminently real, I'm going to DC! My three main goals are to enjoy my internship, finish my incomplete essays, and take time to explore what the east coast has to offer. Hopefully this standby flight works out and I make it to DC with my luggage in one piece. I have no idea what the near future has to offer, but I'm eager to find out. ◊


  1. This situation has happened to me multiple times - more for buses than planes, though. I calculate my time exactly, and then it seems when one thing goes wrong, everything does. Usually I feel much calmer when I find a way to get where I need to, but it' always so stressful and anxious in the meantime. Glad you made it to the airport (and a flight?) and good luck in DC!

    Gemma |

    1. I know right! I get so anxious when a bus doesn't come when it's scheduled. Thanks for the wellwishing in DC!

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