Flashback to my first time leaving the USA, at age 21.
Travel was never a big part of my life growing up in Texas. Our family vacations were pretty traditional, driving to Corpus Christi, where the Gulf of Mexico welcomed us with smelly seaweed and shallow green waters. The biggest trip I took prior to this was working at my family’s restaurant in St. Thomas one summer. So when I signed up for a study abroad and saved for eight months, I knew this trip to England would change my life.
I was excited and scared, because I was travelling solo. It was my second time on a plane, and flying by myself was the only way I knew. So naturally I had my first experience where you wait in another airport for an awkward amount of time, then re board your plane to get to your final destination. This thing, commonly known as a layover, was foreign to me, so it is no wonder that I missed mine. I may very well be the only person in history to miss their flight while obliviously browsing the gift shop less than fifteen feet from their gate.
When I approached the gate about 3 minutes prior to departure, I was shocked to hear my luggage was removed and they had been calling my name on the loud-speaker for 30 minutes. Soulless directed me toward customer service so that I can “sort out” a new flight.
So many worries crossed my mind as I was suddenly aware of time and running. WAS I REALLY THAT DEAF? WAS I GOING TO ENGLAND? WOULD I EVEN BE ABLE TO GET CREDIT BY STAYING IN DETROIT FOR 6 WEEKS OF STUDY INSTEAD?
The lady at the counter explained I missed my flight (DUH) and that I would have to speak to a telephone to purchase my new flight…this clever trick forced people to speak to machines in the event they became too emotional. Tears well my eyes out of sheer confusion. What am I going to do? How am I going to explain this to my program? Why did I work so hard to buy this $1200 flight if I couldn’t even use it?
As I picked up the phone and stood like a zombie, carefully pressing each number, as if I never used the device before, a miracle happened; the agent must have felt extreme guilt, an angel must have punched her shoulder, or something I can yet explain occurred.
The woman calls me over and I immediately hang up the phone, knowing I trust her over a machine any day. She explains that she is going to allow this one time courtesy of putting me on the next flight. Tears stream down my face as reassurance floods my cheeks.
She explained the next flight was not until another 24 hours and I would have to take an outside hotel and return the following day. I shook my head in approval and just kept saying “thank you, thank you so much”.
A free hotel, shuttle and three meal vouchers later I slept easy, completely forgetting to contact anyone. Next stop, England!