I have a problem. Or maybe it’s a talent. I leave things until the last possible moment. Not to the extent where I fail, but to the point where I complete the task with .07 seconds to spare. For instance, if I know I’m going to dinner with friends at 7:00, I’ll begin a workout at 5:30 fully aware that I’ll have 20 minutes to shower, blow dry my hair, pick out my outfit, and meet them downtown. Some call it a gift, most call it poor time management. I’d have to agree to with both beliefs. But I’m growing up and should know by now that things always take longer than expected. That’s why I made a conscious effort to change this habit on my travel day to Australia.
I started the day off by giving myself an ample 5 hours to get my phone properly set up to work internationally. Apparently when the iPhone 6 has just been released, 5 hours is just barely enough time to get the task complete. After a day of waiting and bussing back in forth from Apple and Verizon, I rushed home to put the final touches on packing and give my dog one last snuggle before heading out.
Once we got to the airport, I weighed my bags, and as often is the case with me, one of them was over the 50 lb weight limit. With my uncanny ability to make these kinds of situations work out, I sprawled out my belongings and did some serious weight distributing. Clocking in at 51.8 pounds, the flight assistant let my overweight bag slide. Good people at PDX. I got to the airport security, bid my mom farewell, and began my long journey down under.
My first flight went smoother than a baby’s bottom. My layover in LA was 2 hours. Plenty of time to meander around while still making it to my Gate before boarding time. I first stopped by the Hudson News store and perused the store for a good read. Naturally, my book selection process took a bit longer than expected, so I went to check the monitor again to make sure my flight was on time: 10:05 to Sydney…delayed 20 minutes. I was actually pleased about the delay because, as I said, I am consciously working on improving my time management and I wanted to get to my Gate early. With the delay, I had enough time to get myself a tasty meal and beverage before boarding my 15 hour flight. I stumbled upon a food court and went with a summer salad. I then decided to be adventurous and order myself a large iced coffee. This was a big move for me because I haven’t had a coffee in over 6 months. I have some weird food sensitivities, but I figured the caffeine would help me stay up on the plane and adjust to the 17 hour time change a bit easier. After purchasing my goodies, I arrived at the gate 30 minutes before boarding time. I sat down on the floor to eavesdrop on all of the Australian-accented families and eat my salad until the boarding commenced.
It was finally time to board. I gathered all of my stuff together and patiently waited until it was my turn to get on the plane. After the important people and babies priority boarded, I realized that the flight attendant was calling out passengers by groups. I asked a gentlemen in line how he knew what group he was in and he said it was on his ticket. Hmmm, mine didn’t appear to be on my ticket, so I decided to go ask the counter lady. As soon as she looked at my ticket, her eyes shot out at me like from a cannon, “Honey, this is United, you are on Qantas” Oh my lanta. I looked at my phone and it read 9:50. I asked her if she thought I’d make my flight. She said “Honey, your flight departs at 10:05…” I asked her how far away Qantas was and she explained it was in the international terminal. To get there I had to go down the the hall, to the left, take the escalator to baggage claim, go outside, take a right, walk a few blocks, then wait under the blue sign for Bus A which will take me to the Qantas terminal, and from there I must pass through security again to reach my gate. So you’re telling me there’s still a chance! Her body language expressed slim to none confidence that I’d make my flight. With a terminal change and having to go through security again, I couldn’t blame her. But something inside of me told me to have faith. I’ve persevered though these time-crunched situations before. If I was going to miss this flight, I was going to miss it knowing I gave it 110%.
With my iced coffee in hand, I was off to the races. I repeated the counter lady’s directions in my head over and over like Dory from Finding Nemo did when she also was headed to Sydney. I knew that any missed turn was game over. When I arrived outside I saw Bus A pulling away from the curb. I picked up my sprint to Usain Bolt status, weaved through taxis, and waved my hand like a crazy person. Luckily, I wasn’t crazy enough for the bus driver to ignore me. After confirmation that the bus went to Qantas, I sat down to to catch my breath and collect my thoughts. Although my face-drenched sweat and heavy breathing gave off the impression that I was freaking out about the situation, I truly think it was just the coffee. I couldn’t stop chugging it because those sprints got me super parched. Internally, I was actually very calm. In fact, I couldn’t stop smiling at the situation. Is this really happening right now? If I do miss my flight, it’s not the end of the world, life goes on. Airports are just not my jam.
The bus stopped and I sprung out of my seat ready to turn on the burners again, but the driver stopped me. This wasn’t the Qantas terminal. Oh dang there’s more than one terminal, alright well I did my best. There’s always next year Kendall. I pondered what my plan of attack would be if this situation weren’t to pan out into a miracle. At 10:01, the bus driver announced “terminal 7, Qantas.” I took five more gigantic gulps of my coffee, then left the cup on the chair. I hate littering, but I needed a free arm for optimal running form. I knew the bus driver would understand.
I ran to the terminal and asked the nearest worker where to go for Qantas flights. The man pointed me to the elevator and said “3rd floor.” Clock check:10:03. I hustled to the nearest airline I saw, which happened to be Korean Air. I asked the worker if there was anyway to call my flight and tell them to stop the plane. He looked at me as if I was on drugs (and to his defense, my veins were indeed coursing with caffeine) and he told me I have to go to the Qantas counter. This was another 200 yard sprint around the corner and to the end of the hallway. I revved up my engine and headed straight towards the front of the line. I asked the patient line-waiters if I could cut because my flight was leaving in one minute. They laughed at my current state, but graciously obliged. I told the counter lady, Karina, my dilemma. I openly admitted my foolishness, and asked if there was anyway to have them stop my flight. Karina looked at her watch. 10:07. I could tell she felt for me, but it was already past the departure time. She began looking up when the next possible flight to Sydney. It was at this moment that God spoke to me from the heavens above, “Kendall Johnson…your flight is ready for take off, Kendall Johnson, please come to Gate 49, your flight is about to take off” God’s voice or not, I tapped Karina and proclaimed “That’s me, that’s me. I am Kendall Johnson. Can you tell them to wait for me!?” Some sort of spark lit up deep in Karina’s soul. Without a word, she disappeared to the back room and came back a few moments later with an even more determined demeanor. I pleaded with Karina some more, telling her I would pay her, bake her cookies, massage her feet, weed her garden… She calmly said, “let me see your passport.” Her fingers clicked and clacked against the keyboard and 30 seconds later she said “Come with me.” All of a sudden, Karina turned straight beast mode. I grabbed my luggage and we were off to the races.
I thanked Karina countless times as we bumped people left and right and scooted our way to the front of the security line. At one point my bag opened up and my popcorn spewed across the floor. She told me to forget it.Anything for you Karina. At the front of the security line, I took out my laptop, emptied my water bottle, and shoved my stuff through the x-ray machine. Having passed the security checkpoint, I quickly started putting all my belongings back into my bag, but Karina stopped me. There was no time. Karina grabbed my backpack with one hand and my laptop and water bottle in the other. I took my roller bag. I asked her if I could take anything and she sternly said “no.” I said “ok.” I thanked Karina again. Told her I loved her. That she was the nicest airport lady I have ever came across. I told Karina how impressive it was that she was running in heels. Karina acknowledged me only slightly, not because she didn’t like me but I could tell she was just fully absorbed in the task at hand. I wasn’t going to miss this flight on Karina’s watch. I jogged along side her, as she did her best to run in her 4 inch heels. We turned a corner and before my eyes was Gate 49 with doors wide open. Praise Mother Mary, we did it! When we arrived to the finish line, Karina handed me each of my belongings. This was our goodbye. I told Karina I’d forever be indebted to her courageous act of service. She again hardly acknowledged my remark, but I know the deep bond I felt was mutual.
My flight was supposed to take off 15 minutes ago, but I miraculously managed to weasel my way on. After this incident, I have realized that I shouldn’t try to change who I am. I must accept my habit for what it truly is: an uncanny ability to unintentionally time situations to perfection. If this hadn’t happened, I would have never gotten a simultaneous sprint workout and tour of the LA airport, and most importantly, I would have never met Karina. And for that, I am grateful.
T-minus 13 hours until I land in Australia and I plan on making every second count, even if it means I’m sweating profusely at the end of it!