Friday, December 15, 2006

Travel Blog, Day Two

December 15

Driving to the airport yesterday I was euphoric. The weather was mild in Lower Alabama, already in the 60's, and promised to be pleasant in New York when I got there. Traffic was light on the expressway, and I thought, "If the rest of the trip goes this well, I'm a lucky person."

Then I remembered that things are seldom what you expect. Then I thought, things never work out exactly how you expect, but if you hang on, they usually turn out even better than you expected.

When I got to the airport I found out my flight had been delayed for 40 minutes. It might not make the connection to the next leg of the flight. So the booking agent put me on "backup standby" for the next flight that would have an opening, which would be at 7 P.M. That's fine, I thought, but I have a date for dinner in New York, and if I don't leave Charlotte until 7 P.M. I won't get to La Guardia until 8:30 and won't get into the city until 9:30 at least! As I sat in the Mobile airport and saw the first flight delayed another hour, my hopes for the dinner date were dashed. Tempers were short at the gate. Everybody was on a cell phone making irate phone calls. I didn't have the phone number of my old friend who was expecting me, but I knew the airport was wireless and decided to whip out my laptop and email him, and to email the hotel to tell them I'd be a late arrival.

This was the first time I'd ever traveled with a laptop. Okay, call me a dinosaur; I don't use the new technology to its best advantage. I do own a cell phone, and in fact, for a change, had it in my purse. But I didn't have phone numbers of everyone because I hadn't anticipated this change in flight plans. Get this: I have flown on about two million flights and never had this happen. Now that I have, maybe I'll be prepared. But it probably won't happen again.

When we landed in Charlotte I knew I had missed the first flight. But I ran to the gate, which was probably about a mile away in that airport, and read that there was indeed a flight to NYC boarding at that very minute. It was at yet another gate, however, about another mile away, and don't forget I'm carrying a leather coat on my arm, two books, a purse and a carry bag packed as tightly as it could be. But I got to the gate before the plane took off and the boarding agent looked at my ticket and said, "Just go in there and grab the empty seat!" There were two couples in line, but they wouldn't separate, so I went ahead.

My seat was between a sleeping man and a pretty girl on the aisle, who had had as harrowing as day as mine, apparently, because she and her friend across the aisle, another beauty, were squealing in drunken revelry at everything that happened, and talking about their ordeals in traveling that day. It was a more comfortable flight than the first, and I just felt lucky to have a seat. I hoped that my checked bag had miraculously found the same airplane.

After about fifteen minutes in the air, the sleeping man woke up and we had a very intense and stimulating conversation about a lot of things. He would be traveling on to Vermont, but we had a wonderful talk. He even likes Adam Sander. I didn't ask him about Anderson Cooper.

We said a hasty goodbye when we disembarked, and I got my bag (Yes!) from the carousel and got into a big comfy cab and picked up my cell phone and actually got Howard's phone number from information and called him. Unfortunately he was sick in bed, and couldn't make dinner, but I was excited to be in New York again, and knew we'd probably be able to connect today.

The hotel is a real find, well located and tiny, but like a big city hotel anywhere, clean and neat and look at me, posting on the blog from the room because it's wireless. Had a lovely meal at a little French place last night and now it's time to go around the corner and have a deli breakfast of eggs and hashbrowns and then spend the day doing New York and maybe catch a show tonite.

Things seldom if ever work out exactly as you expect, no matter how tightly you plan. But isn't it nice when they work out even better?

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