Sunday, January 20, 2013

2012 Year in Review: Denver International Airtrap (Part V of V)

What I like to call the “Christmas creep” had begun even before we’d left for our final trip of 2012. You know what I’m talking about. Every year, the snowmen and Christmas trees and red bows start showing up earlier and earlier. By the time we’d returned, there wasn’t even any discount Halloween candy! It had all gone on sale and been cleared out before All Hallow’s Eve had even arrived. Now it was candy canes and hot chocolate and every manner of normal candy decked out in snowflakes, peppermint, and Santa Claus. I mean, Christmas was coming up soon, I guess…  right around the corner.  HOLY GEEZ IT’S TOMORROW!!!

Whew! Sorry. Got a little carried away there…

Truth is, I managed to escape most of the craziness that is the holiday season. Hubby and I had a nice quiet Thanksgiving to ourselves, then he boarded a plane to fly off for an 8-10 week school coded by a fancy acronym. This left me with the remaining holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, all to myself. To many, spending these holidays alone sounds like a nightmare – a tragedy akin to those told by the Greeks of old. But to an introvert like myself? It was more like someone just handed me a PiƱa Colada and a pair of sunglasses and told me my massage appointment was in half an hour.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have been with my family! Drowning in their love and hugs, stuffing myself with delicious food, and enjoying the luxury of delivery pizza would have been fantastic. However, if you’ve never experienced it, holiday travel is the worst!

A couple of years ago, my husband and I attempted to fly across the U.S. to visit his family for Christmas. We booked our flights with plenty of layover time, made sure to get to the airport with extra time to get through security… then waited for the almost three hours because our first flight was delayed. Fortunately, we made it to our next destination with a little under an hour to make it to the connecting gate. Plenty of time, right?!

That was day we found out just how huge Denver International Airport really is.
I think we each gained one level in parkour skill when we were still forever away from the gate and saw the Departures board start to flash ‘Boarding’ for our flight. Achievement unlocked: Master Baggage Dodger.

Panting and sweating, we arrived at the gate just in time! We approached the counter to retrieve our boarding passes. The woman there noted us in the system then told us to sit and wait until our name was called – we figured they were trying to keep things moving. Thankful for a chance to catch our breath, we watched while they called the first group to board. No worries, though – we thought – we had reservations. We weren’t stuck on standby. Then they called the next group to board. We weren’t concerned, though, because clearly they just wanted to get people on the plane before taking care of us stragglers. So they boarded everyone. Then the woman we’d spoken to called some names that weren’t ours and those people boarded. Then the doors to the boarding ramp closed.

Now we were worried.

The wench – because that’s all she was to me at this point – finally called our last name as if we weren’t the only people left sitting in that section of black faux leather, butt-numbing seating. She was sorry, of course, but the plane was full and we’d have to go see customer support to find a new flight. (Because you know, they just leave those lying around during the holidays.) But what about our reservations?! Oh, she said, you didn’t check in at least an hour in advance… so you lost your spot.

I tried to check in, though! I explained, trying to ignore the fact that the plane was backing out of the gate as I spoke. The mobile site was down, and then we were on a two hour flight and couldn’t have possibly checked in! (WiFi on planes wasn’t a thing, then, kids.) This woman was a skilled veteran of the airline industry, though. You could tell. Because when I told her this and explained our death-defying race between two gates that were miles apart, she looked up at me with those aged blue eyes…

…with an expression that said: zero shits given.

So we stood in line next to all the other infuriated passengers for an hour or two. We listened to everyone’s sob story about trying to get home to family and felt sorry for all the customer support people who basically had to tell them it was impossible. Then it was our turn. The guy could not get us to our original destination or returned to our point of origin until the 27th – the day we were scheduled to fly back across the U.S. anyway. Unable to afford a hotel, we were going to be stuck at the Denver International Airtrap for days.

Oh, wait! He might be able to get us to another city near our destination sooner… Oh, wait… nope. No. All of the flights were booked solid with a long list of stand-byers waiting in the wings. We felt crushed and defeated; but we didn’t cry or give him the same sob story we’d heard everyone else give. We did something even more helpful! We just stared at one another. Wordlessly. And after a few moments of palpable silence, the customer support gentleman piped up that we might try Alaska Airlines because they have a couple of flights going out that way soon…

And we were off! New terminal, new destination, new airline… no understanding as to why they’d help us, but we were willing to give it a chance! It was a good thing we did, too, because they got us there. We waited for another hour or so in their line amongst an entire plane of passengers who had only been told that they had a plane, but no crew to fly it. (Genius!) Fortunately, we were not all bound for the same destination. The woman who helped us got us on a flight within a matter of minutes. Then she marked her initials on a couple of unprinted boarding passes, told us to RUN and she would call ahead to the gate to tell them to hold the plane for us.

And they did!

Almost twenty hours after our journey had begun, we finally made it to the next closest airport to our destination… at 2am; which was really about 5am, for us. Talk about some jet lag…

Needless to say... given this previous experience, coupled with the price, I decided against the potential madhouse of trying to make it home for the holidays.

The time alone proved productive, as well! I’ve had the time to reflect upon the previous year, after all. And in doing this, I realized something very important: Part of being an adult – a happy adult – is to face the difficult parts of life, to learn the hard truths, to endure the insufferable moments… and to choose from the shit and the mud what you’re going to carry with you from it all.

My New Year’s resolution for 2012 was to be more positive – to find what little good there may be in a totally FUBAR situation. I wasn’t always great at it and some days I just straight up failed. But when it came to looking back on the year, I chose to write about the positive things – the awesome places I got to see, things I got to do, and the things I had rather than didn’t have. I could have written a lamentation on being alone on Christmas or done a five-part series detailing every argument hubby and I had last year; but is that how I would want to look back on my life?

My 2012 certainly did not go without heartache or tough times. But that is not how I’m choosing to remember it.

…even if it took me till mid-January to get around to it.

How will you choose to remember 2012?

1 comment:

  1. we love your blog. you have a way of writting that takes us on the adventure with you. keep writting. we love reading them

    love grandma and grandpa