Flying Over I-40 N. And leaning in.

bear-plane

4:15 am. In Uber, bleary eyed. Please, no small talk. Absolute silence will score a larger tip. I think about letting him know, the thought vanishing in 3 seconds. Inhuman.

Air conditioning dries the skin, sticky from the early morning humidity. It’s summer in Dallas.

SiriusXM is set to Symphony Hall, playing Bach or Tchaikovsky or Chopin. Wrong side of 50, and you can’t tell one composer from the next. Kyo Maclear: “Die knowing something. Die knowing your knowing will be incomplete.” Makes Sense. I sit in the back seat wondering why this is so difficult, how I’m so badly twisted. Keep running, or Die ignorant.

AA1150, DFW to LGA. 6:00 a.m. boarding. 6:35 am departure, 11:09 am touch down in NYC. And beat the soul sucking rush hour traffic. Home. Soon. Weekend. Body tired, let’s go, and softens.

First flight out. Airport opening. TSA agents. Airport personnel. A youth soccer team from Argentina. I find a seat outside of the Admiral’s Club, which does not open until 5 a.m. A Google alert flashes flight delay to 10:30 a.m. No!

I rush to call American Airlines to find another flight – the automated message says due to inclement weather, hold times are longer. “We will return your call in an estimated 38 minutes.” 38 minutes. You’ve got to be kidding me.

A second Google alert flashes, my flight is now delayed to 10:45 a.m. It’s 4:55 a.m. now.

I’m first in line as the doors are unlocked to the Admirals Club.

“Is it weather? Or is the delay due to an aircraft maintenance problem.”

“Sir, it’s aircraft maintenance.” Oh, no. Estimates for departure times on maintenance problems are notoriously bad.

“Would you mind checking to see if I can jump on an earlier flight.”

She scans her monitors, punches a few keys.

“No Sir. But I can put you on standby. On the 9:00 a.m. flight. But you are 5th on the wait list.” Irritated.

The Canadian thing, and the DK thing to do is to accept it (and b*tch), go sit and wait five hours to board, and hope the wait list clears.

No DK. No. Push. Lean in.

The short line behind me begins to build. My anxiety from this pushing back, this un-Canadian-ness, escalates quickly. I square my shoulders and straighten my back to avoid seeing what is behind me.

“I’m sorry. I need to get home. Would you mind checking again.”

“Sir, I did check. The flights are full.”

“Please, would you mind, can you please just check again?”

She looks at me, forces a smile that shouts: So, this is what it’s going to be like today.

She taps, the heaviness of fingers on keyboard fills the ears with clicks.

The leather strap from my bag begins to cut into the skin on my shoulder. In for a penny, DK, in for a pound. Need to be sure she really looks.

I look at her right lapel. Jackie. She’s Jackie.  Now DK, lean in.

“Jackie, just one more thing.”

She lifts her head, and stops hammering on the keyboard and offers a short, curt clipped response: “Yes?”

Now!

“Jackie, for lifetime Platinum members, does American offer any priority booking benefits when aircraft maintenance is the cause of the delay?”

She pauses. Her eyebrows lift with a sign of newfound recognition. A dart, a direct hit. A bulls-eye.

“Sir, let me check again – maybe a seat has opened up. Can you give me a minute?”

The fingers on the keyboard are now more deliberate, softer. Her eyes scan the monitor.

“Sir, there has just been a cancellation on the 7 a.m. flight. There’s one seat left.”

I glance at my watch as I step away from the desk. The line has swollen to eight deep, others are now scrambling to re-book.

There’s an hour to wait until boarding. I scan my notifications and see that I missed another Google Alert that has delayed the departure of my original flight to 12:15 p.m.

I re-read the text, the words feeding an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

Bravo DK. Bravo. You are amazing!


Notes:

Comments

  1. Bloxdy heck, you’re the master! I’m like you (no, not Canadian but Swiss and brought up to not inconvenience anybody), always considering others first but I do applaud you loudly for having taken a stand this one time. Gripping reading, my mouth went dry, my heartbeat was racing – you had me. I hope with all my heart that you will have the most wonderful, calm, quiet, peaceful, consoling weekend, with a full recharge of your batteries and enough time to realise that this is ONLY WORK, not your LIFE. I wouldn’t want to see you on your deathbed, realising that you missed out on all the TRULY IMPORTANT stuff (wife, family, friends, leisures, reading, writing, music). Have a hug across all the oceans.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well played

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a Midwesterner (we also got an extra dose of the ‘always be pleasant and accommodating gene), I, too, have a hard time pushing back. But I have learned that you can advocate for yourself without being an a**, and I think that’s the key. Wishing you a chill weekend, pal…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A Siberian baby bear with lifetime platinum member benefits, love that 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You are a wonderful story teller…I wasn’t in the mood to read but was in full thrall from the get go. We–your team in Live and Learn–are so-o relieved that you pressed, like a good Canadian hockey player. We all won, and now we know that we know a “lifetime platinum member with benefits.” [I was also one of those who would never be “forward” or pushy. I’d even say no thank you repeatedly to an offer of candy when I was an addict at age 4–they’d practically have to put it in my mouth.]

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette says:

    Dear David,
    Please try not to post the above previous to any day I will be flying somewhere. It is more than enough to make me stay home.
    Love,
    Nan Morrissette

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I think I may have enjoyed a few quiet hours in the Admirals Club…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a squeaky wheel you are! Good for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. bam.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’ll enjoy this version…

    It’s June 1998 and I’ve bought a cheap-o ticket NY-Toronto because I’ve been nominated for a National Magazine Award, as good as it gets in my biz. The cheap-o Brazilian airline changes airports then cancels the flight so we are transferred to Air Canada which flies hourly.

    But now it’s about 3:30 — it’s a 90 -minute flight plus 60 minutes into the city — and the goddamn ceremony starts at 6pm at the Sheraton Center downtown.

    PUSH…or not. Hell, yes NY-er-ishly, I pushed to make the next flight out. WON the award ==- and had to accept it in my grungy day clothes since the airline lost my luggage with appropriate clothing.

    BOOM.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Well doneMr K! Sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do, to be heard! 👏👏✈️✈️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh so proud of you DK. You so deserved that result. It’s agony having to access that persistence and not rolling over thing. I struggle with it too. We Brits are similar to Canadians. But we can do it if we try. I bet your weekend was sweetened by that little victory.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Smiling…so familiar and so real. I was there with you all the way. And quite a while ago… with me. Accomplishment indeed. Have a great Sunday, Canadian 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reminds me of Hearts in Atlantis;
    Peace and Love = Information

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Did you have another picture first? I swear I see this just now for the first time!
    Or has it just not shown on my screen – heck, this is even better than I thought!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “Teddy” bears and leaning in. See? That’s your softie Canadian side coming in to balance your “pushy-ness”.. Quite subtly, I might add…
    And frankly, when one has platinum privileges, why would one not use them?. I think we Canadians are not just a bunch of “yes-men” and we do go get what we need when we need it… no?
    Kudos to you for getting home when you could.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, man, that HAD to make you sweat. Congrats on absorbing A New York State of Mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. great post. all ended well, you on the plane and home, not stranded on the tarmac. Or The Admirals Club.. but, home is better.

    Liked by 1 person

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