When your trip goes awry – Part 1

Odd, don’t you think, that we are incapable of remembering what we once felt?

We can recall that we felt a certain way and can even describe what we thought we were feeling at the time. But we can’t recreate the exact same emotions. After the child is born, the mother cannot re-feel the pain (a good thing) but neither can she return emotionally to that initial joy of holding her child in her arms for the very first time.

This phenomenon makes all reporting about our emotions on a trip a bit suspect. Our memory in general is notorious for leaving out details that did occur and filling in ones that didn’t. But when it comes to our emotional memory, it gets even worse.

Knowing this, I decided to capture in as close to real time as I could what I was thinking and feeling on a recent trip when the situation started to unravel. I’ll share with you here and in the next few entries what happened. You’ll see that even as the events unfolded, I was unable to understand 15 minutes after the fact why I had felt the way I did just moments earlier.

I’ll then share what I think this all meant since, as you’ll see (and as you probably already know from your own experience), meaning doesn’t always come at the time of experience. It often takes reflection and time to make sense of it all.

So here goes, a play-by-play account of a trip that did not go as planned.

Correction: Did not go as I planned…


Flight CancelledIt’s currently Thursday morning and I’m in an airport in the southern part of the Midwest. I have been fighting a cold for the past six days. The cold’s been winning. Like bankruptcy and certain relationships, it got slowly better before getting suddenly worse.

Besides just feeling lousy, the primary victim of this cold has been my voice. I spent 14 hours yesterday in all-day client meetings hardly able to speak. By the end of the evening, I literally could not say a word except by whispering.

In a different situation, this laryngitis-like malady could serve a talker like me well as a lesson in listening better. But the timing, as well as my ability to speak even this morning, could both use some dramatic improvement.

Today I was to fly from here to Florida for more meetings. The good news is that this is a travel day with no appointments. The bad news is that this has become more of a travel day than I expected.

Delta just informed all the passengers that our flight to Atlanta (en route to Orlando) has been cancelled due to mechanical problems.

Ever been on a cancelled flight, particularly with business travelers? There’s a huge rush to the desk to rebook and every cell phone within 200 feet is now pressed to people’s faces as we all frantically try to get on the few alternative flights out of this medium-sized airport.

I try to get online to hunt for Delta’s reservation number. But remember, I still can’t talk except in sporadic words. Listening to me is like having a conversation with bad cell reception: only one in every three words comes out discernable. So rather than call the airline, I call the wonderful person who books my travel on these business trips.

She’s there, deciphers my croaks and squeaks and tells me she’ll call Delta immediately. I hang up, thankful for her assistance.

Now what would you do at this point? Sit back and wait patiently for her to call back? Rationally, I know that’s my best plan. But that’s not how I react. Instead, I pursue a variety of fruitless actions just so I can feel like I’m doing something:

  • I look up the airline reservation number,
  • I then decide instead to tweet them,
  • I can’t find a way to send a direct message to Delta on Twitter, so,
  • I start to call the airline, until I realize that calling now might mess up what my travel person is doing so,
  • I hang up and wonder, not for the last time today, why I seem unable to trust God and others to work things out for me.

The phone rings. My travel person has got me a flight on American that gets me into Orlando four hours later than originally planned. Not optimal, but in these situations, few things are. And compared to the only other option she could find that arrives after midnight, I’m grateful. I profusely thank her and now await that flight.

It will be a much longer wait than I ever imagined.

To be continued…

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