Sunday, January 04, 2009

Don't Cry for Me Argentina, Part Five

I wish I could say it was all plain sailing from then on.

Things seemed to be falling into place and the flight from Vancouver to LA was all on time and I had the good news that I was on standby for a business class upgrade to Washington. The room service club sandwich and half bottle of champagne that I toasted my (belated) birthday with were well deserved and the king size bed with six pillows and very, very soft, high thread-count sheets gave me the best nights sleep I think I’ve ever had.

A six am automated flight update message from United was the first indication that things might not run smoothly. We’d booked the flight with a five and half layover in Washington, because it was Christmas Eve and we were expecting delays. I truly never believed that there would be a chance I could miss the flight from Washington to Buenos Aires. But as United called every 15 minutes, adding an extra 30 minutes delay to my departure time from LAX, that five and a half window was disappearing. Eventually it happened. My flight was so delayed there was no way I could make the connecting flight.

I had my first gin and tonic at 12.04 and continued with an hourly topical application until I fell asleep. United put me on stand-by for another flight to Washington that wasn’t showing a delay and which would give me 25 minutes to get to the gate for the flight to BA. I was number two (of 28) on the standby list. The flight was showing 14 spare seats. Then 10. Then seven. And then two. Where it remained, for the next 30 minutes as I obliterated my manicure. They asked if any passengers might like compensation to take a later flight. Each area boarded. They closed the flight. I was still standing at the gate, like the runt of the litter waiting to be picked. Finally; “Will passengers Goncalves and Edwards please come to the podium.” They shut the door after me and started to taxi a picosecond later.

I’m still trying to work out what the lesson of all of this is. At first I was saying that the universe didn’t want me to go to Buenos Aires; that it was keeping me away for a reason. That something bad would happen if I went. I have never been as nervous as I was when waiting for that standby flight to Washington, and this is from a woman who can be as neurotic as a champion Weimaramer on the morning of Crufts. The hope that I felt when I thought I saw my passport in a snowdrift outside of the office was overwhelming, as was the disappointment when it turned out it was a piece of ice.

I called a friend for some advice and talked through the Universe is against me theory. He asked if perhaps the Universe wasn’t just throwing some challenges for me to sashay over, which I thought was a superb way of looking at it. I don’t want to end this with some sort of “Little House on the Prairie” homily, but the whole thing has changed my world view. Now, can you go and check that you know where your passport is?

Normal food blogging service will resume shortly.

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