---- — My trip home from the West Coast last week gave me a better understanding of how Tom Hanks felt in “The Terminal.”
I arrived at the airport in Portland, Ore., at 8 a.m. Saturday, and I didn’t pull into my driveway until after 3 p.m. Sunday.
Nothing went right. And I mean nothing.
Because my friend works for an airline, I was flying on discounted tickets. It’s awesome because it’s cheap. It’s not awesome because you have to fly stand-by. But, until now, I’d never had a problem doing so.
I was set to the leave on the 10 a.m. direct flight to Chicago. Too bad a seat didn’t open up for me. Time for Plan B. I caught a flight to Seattle, where I was going to try to get on the 6 p.m. to Chicago. After sitting in the airport for seven hours, I learned there was no seat for me.
So, they booked me on the 8 a.m. flight the next morning but warned there was one open seat and 11 stand-bys. There were two more flights that day but the scenario was the same for all. That math don’t work, so I called my friend.
”You’re not getting out tomorrow,” he said.
He said I could try to fly back to Portland and stay another day. Then as he was checking the Monday flights, he said, “Wait, make that two days. Monday ain’t looking good either. Oh wow, Tuesday’s a maybe, too.”
Knowing I wasn’t getting home this way, I booked a regular flight with another airline, putting down an amount of money that made me nauseated. It was shortly after 7 p.m. at this point and my flight was scheduled to leave at 11:20 p.m., with an hour layover in Detroit. I would arrive Chicago at 7:50 a.m.
I went to the ticket counter of the airline I just gave my right arm to to check in and get my boarding pass. There, I learned the flight was just delayed, now scheduled to leave at midnight.
Because I’m cursed, clearly, the flight didn’t actually leave until 12:23 a.m. When it finally landed, I pushed my way off and ran down the ramp as best I could with my carry-on in tow, only to reach the gate 2 minutes after my plane left.
They had already booked me on the next flight, which left at 8:56 a.m. I sat and waited as its scheduled boarding time of 8:19 came and went. Finally, about 8:30 a.m., the gate attendant announced there was “unscheduled maintenance problem” and boarding was being delayed.
Of course it is.
Fifteen minutes or so later, she said the repair was taking longer than expected and that boarding would happen as soon as possible. I, however, was pretty sure this plane would not leave the airport — because I’m cursed.
Much to my surprise, we did board eventually and I was finally headed home.
After going on a wild goose chase at O’Hare to find my luggage that arrived 24 hours before I did, I caught the terminal tram to catch the shuttle bus to get to the parking lot. (Isn’t travel fun?)
When I approached the shuttle, the driver was standing outside its door waiting for a passenger. When he took his seat, he reached to put on his seat belt. Little did he know there was a cursed person sitting right behind him.
As he attempted to clasp the belt buckle, it busted into two pieces that shot in different directions. I told him my curse broke his seat belt, explaining the long travel days I’ve had.
”Oh nonsense,” he said, putting the pieces back together.
He went in for attempt two and again, pieces went flying. I think he was now actually considering the possibility I might be cursed.
I told him I’d understand if he kicked me off his bus.
“Those pieces are cosmetic anyway,” he said. “Pushing on!”
Shockingly, we weren’t in a fiery crash on the way to the parking lot. And finally, I reached my car.
I’m not even going to lie about it. I dropped my luggage and wrapped my arms around my car as best I could. In that moment I understood why sailors kiss the ground after a long spell at sea.
So as I stood there, my cheek warmed by the sun-soaked steel, it hit me: What if my car doesn’t start?
Misty Knisely is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5155 or at firstname.lastname@example.org