19 May 2012

Day One: The Journey East

My engines are revved.  It's gonna be THAT kind of trip...

Missed my flight. I was thinking American and it was actually Frontier and so I got to the counter too late.

I was utterly befuddled and frustrated and frightened and....by the airport setup and many passengers grumbling and some woman who barely spoke English but was wearing a uniform was trying to tell me that I had to go to the end of the line I was in, the long line I was in, the third long line ...

I ignored her and moved on when I finally realized there would be no resolution to the language breakdown between us.

In retrospect, I wish I'd viewed the encounter as an angel message, alerting me that I was in the wrong line.

Anyway, when I reached the halfway mark in that queue -- in what I would soon discover was the "wrong" one -- I found myself adjacent to a beautiful, rosy-cheeked young man. When our eyes met, we both smiled and even chuckled a little for no reason at all. We started talking about his trip to Ecuador...which caught the ear of another woman, very sweet face, and she joined the conversation. We were three humans, conversing and smiling, in the midst of a sea of stressed, pissed-off humanity.

And, I swear, the world just got sooooo sweet and interrelated from that point on. I was smiling when I reached the counter and smiling as I learned I was in the wrong line and had 5 minutes to run to the next terminal....

Sure, I stomped my foot and cursed when another beautiful young man told me that the gate was closed and that, even though it was 20 minutes till the plane would take off, there was just no way for me to board.

But the guy who told me was a Jamaican, less than a week in his new job. And he was friendly and my heart loved hearing him talk. He issued me a boarding pass for tomorrow -- same time, same place -- and I set out to find the BART stop.

I thought I was going back to Berkeley to spend the day and then find a ride back to SFO in the morning.

The "stupid! stupid! stupid!" chant inside my head was loosing steam. I realized I was free, a freak:  yeah, I could feel stupid and angry about missing a flight.

But I didn't have to.

There was no station agent on duty when I reached BART and I needed a ticket. It took me about two minutes to step full into my freak/outlaw/free agent mind set and realize that I could simply open the gate and walk through.  I fully intended to purchase a ticket from the machine once inside....


neither of the two machines were functioning.  And I laughed out loud:  signs, signs, everywhere signs about not drinking and not smoking and not putting your feet on the seats and not leaving bags unattended and etc. All these rules -- and no one around to enforce them.

When the train arrived, I got on. Without a ticket.

At the Rockridge stop, according to the "system", I would have some explaining to do and owe the ticket price of $9.60.


The station agent on duty was a New Orleanian. When he heard I'd missed my flight and been unable to purchase a ticket at SFO, he laughed and I laughed and he charged me $2.


So on we go.

Just got off the phone with Oleg, my pick-up in New Orleans. I shared some of the story of The Adventure So Far and he said, "Leave it to you, Alex, to turn missing your flight into a fabulous day."

It's not that I'm special and the rules don't apply.  It's that we're all special and I'm one of the lucky ones who realizes the rules don't apply.

More later......