Tag Archives: airports

Hurry Up & Wait

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We knew prior to departure from LAX that we had a near impossible connection to make at DFW that was only made less likely when our flight left twenty minutes late. I was sure we would not and could not make it, and as we prepared for our final descent into Dallas I asked a flight attendant if he had any advice. He was kind and checked on our connecting flight and learned that it was (unfortunately, for once) on time, but he gave us the gate number and instructions on how best to race across the terminals.

I am a runner.  Let me loose.

The voice on the crackly airplane speaker asked everyone to show kindness and let those with tight connecting flights deplane first, and apparently 98% of the passengers on that particular flight had tight connecting flights. So we weren’t super quick getting off the plane.

I decided not to push the two elderly ladies waiting for wheelchairs out of the way, but when they created an opening, I was off. And we made it. Just in time. To what turned out to be the wrong gate.

Last-minute gate change? You have got to be kidding me.

So I was off to the races again. The voice on the loudspeaker declared that the doors to our (actual) gate would be closing momentarily and that every passenger should be on the aircraft. I ran even faster. Chariots of Fire music wafted through the airport. And we made it. For real this time. Barely. The last two to board.

We collapsed in our seats, breathing hard, and sweating, but happy to have made it in the nick of time. And then the captain announced over the intercom that there was a tiny lightbulb that needed changing and that maintenance was on its way, which took a good twenty minutes.

My sweet wife declared, “Hurry up and wait.”  Exactly.

That seems to be an accurate life mantra: Hurry up and wait. I long for some actual rhythm, but our mad dash through the airport only to wait on a maintenance crew is a pretty good descriptor of my days, weeks, months, and years. Hurry up and wait.

Distance runners do such a thing on purpose and call it interval training. It supposedly makes you better on those long runs. If that’s the case, I’m really going to be good at life someday.

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Comparison Is the Death of Joy

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[If anyone just has to have the shirt, click HERE.]  🙂

“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain

“People watching” is great fun, and a trip to an airport is like working in HR for the circus.

Recently, I was at the gate in LAX awaiting my flight to Phoenix when three ladies sat down beside me in brightly-colored muumuus. They were quite the sight. I think it was a mother and two daughters who could have been grandmothers themselves. The mother looked like Helen Roper as a smoker, and I mean that in the best possible way. From the phone call home, I deduced that they had just returned from a cruise. They told dad/husband that they had a blast but were sure ready for home.

I tried to read my book and not pay attention, but at one point one turned to the others and whispered that “you see all kinds in the airport.” They chuckled condescendingly. I nearly fell off my chair. Airports are awesome.

On my return to Los Angeles, I was a few hours early for the flight and looked for a gate that was not crowded so I could eat my overpriced lunch in peace. There was a perfect row. One young man sat at the end in the lotus position reading a hardcover. He was tall and looked like European Jesus, and with the long hair, beard, black shirt, and blue jeans, I imagined that he had an elective choice in high school and chose Buddhist Meditation over Motorcycle Gangs in a close call and the rest was history.

We sat in peace for a few minutes but were then joined by Frustrated Lady. Of all the open seats in the gate area, she chose to sit directly across from European Jesus. I applauded her choice. She, too, looked like a smoker (what is my deal with smokers?).

Frustrated Lady made several phone calls and made it very clear that she had missed her connecting flight and was not happy with the aviation industry. When she got hold of Alan, who I presume is her husband based on her change to a more unpleasant tone, she told him that the flight tonight to Kansas City would be her last. Next year, when she travels to California, it would either be by car or bus, and I don’t know what Alan said to that, but he was wrong.

Eventually, Frustrated Lady went for some ice cream, which seemed to help. European Jesus seemed happier, too.

I thought about the great sport of people watching and considered something that might be important: When we encounter other human beings, we see ourselves as the norm and consider everyone else the odd ones out.

This thought appeared right after it dawned on me that European Jesus had stories of both Frustrated Lady and Skinny Bald Man when he gathered with his apostles on arrival at his final destination.

So, do with this lesson what you will, but my suggestion is this: Fly Southwest.

Ha!

No, my suggestion is to keep on people watching, and keep on noticing all the crazy differences in humanity, but resist the urge to make it a competitive sport.

Non-European Jesus once told a story about two people praying: one thanked God that he wasn’t like the other person and the other simply asked for grace. The moral of the story was that you get to choose.

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* Click HERE for a good article from Daniela Tempesta on the dangers of comparing ourselves to others.