Friday, September 18, 2009

The Hartsfield Dash

Karma is a funny thing.

During one visit to Connecticut, I decided to check the status of my flight back to Los Angeles. It turned out that my flight from Hartford to Atlanta was now delayed two hours, thus making me arrive at 1:37 for a connecting flight that left at 1:15 . That wasn't going to work. I got on the phone with India, I mean, Delta, and began trying to fix things up. She tried lots of things that weren't going to work, such as putting me from Atlanta to Salt Lake City and staying overnight - though I wasn't going to make it due to the delay to Atlanta in the first place. It was nearly as inane as the counter attendant in Tommy Boy when they need to go to Chicago right away. It clearly wasn't the brightest conversation I've had, but I suppose she was following her script, which I figured out when she asked if I needed a hotel or car rental before I hung up.

When I arrived to the airport, the Delta line was insanely longer than all of the other airlines. Lindy's flight on Southwest was on time so she had to go. After we said goodbye my parents got in line for me and I jumped on one of the Delta phones near the check in counter.

At about the time I got through, my Dad came over to check on me, since the line wasn't working. Before he could speak and elderly lady grabbed his arm and said she couldn't hear the voice on the phone. He got her flight changed for her, talking to the Delta rep and writing down the information. She thanked him, said 'bless you' and was on her way. Back on my end, I got put on another delayed flight to Atlanta. It was supposed to leave at 7:15am, but was now leaving at 10:15am. The dark cloud behind the silver lining was that I'd be landing in Atlanta at 12:41 pm and I was still on my 1:15 pm flight to LAX. Not to worry, the woman reassured me, the flights were only one terminal apart.

I checked in, boarded the plane, sat in my front aisle seat and prepared to leave. Except we didn't take off anywhere close to on time. In mid-air the captain said our new arrival time was 12:50, and we'd have to take an extended taxi route to the terminal due to construction. We'd get to the gate at 1:00 pm. This was bad, since the woman on the phone said they close the doors 10 minutes before departure. I had five minutes. Then the news got worse. The gate had been switched to B36. Just to give you an idea of how far apart that is, I made a little diagram

The bottom right dot is where I arrived and the top left one is where I had to be in five minutes. The paths in the middle were the underground walkways or monorail stations. Clearly it's hard to tell by the drawing, but it's clear they're not so close together if the travel options include monorail travel.

The second we landed, I grabbed my shit and go. I'm running, swerving around people, cutting in front of the little beeping cart full of old-timers. I get to the escalators to the station - 1:04 pm. I am on my way down saying excuse me and everyone is kindly letting me by, except this one woman who had a bag with her dog in it. She reached down, I thought to move it, and she was only scratching his cutesy little head. Finally I hit the bottom level and see there are moving walkways. I bolt to them and make some okay time through Terminal A and to the stairs at Terminal T. It's 1:09. I get up the stairs and see a sign that says Gates 1-8, so I figure I'm real close and head that way. The hallway begins with Gate 8 and goes down by ones. Maybe it was the frustration of knowing that I would not be on a flight until 5:59pm, or the knowledge of previously being stranded in Atlanta's airport due to a tornado - I was not going to be denied.

I run to the gate. The plane is still there, but the sign says "Flight Dispatched". I said "Fuck Delta!" to myself, but apparently loud enough for the attendant to hear. She asked for my ticket to put me on standby to 2:30 and I obliged, crushed, winded and with sore knees.

Then her phone rang.

It wasn't the white phone on the podium, it was the red Batman-style phone. She told me to wait right there and I did as she said. She opened the door and headed back into the entry tunnel. I looked out the window to see it reconnecting to the plane. The only time I ever saw that was for Uchenna and Joyce during that season of Amazing Race in the finale they were sure to lose. The attendant came back out and said a passenger was sick, and if the paramedics said she couldn't fly, the seat was mine. Only a few seconds passed when she grabbed my ticket, while holding the door open with her foot and said 'hurry up'. I was on.

I don't know what that lady did to Karma, but I was thinking about that as I saw her passed out in the entrance ramp as I walked to the flight. I guess I was being rewarded for my father's good deed from the morning. The guy next to me told me the seat was unlucky, and I proceeded to let him know that I was lucky.

Of course, my winning streak ran out when they announced the movie they were showing was Lindsay Lohan's Just My Luck.

Though my bags didn't make it until the next Atlanta flight arrived, it was still a victory for me. I would have only been standby on the next two flights, and only confirmed on a 5:59pm flight that would have got me in closer to 8:15pm pacific time. I was happy to wait the extra 35 minutes for my bag to arrive instead of having it delivered four to five hours later. If I hadn't, Karma would have probably been pissed at me and made the bags late on their delivery.

Karma is a funny thing.

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