I locked my front door behind me 51 hours ago…surely I should be at my final destination. Instead, it is 3:45 AM and I am sitting in a deserted second floor hallway in the Mumbai airport with a young man in camouflage gear with a machine gun attached to his leg via a piece of rope.
After a missed connection, night in NJ, bus ride to NY where the driver said, “I have never seen traffic on this bridge so bad,” a final second arrival for a flight to Frankfurt, and a six hour layover, I was sure my luck had changed when I arrived in Mumbai two hours before my scheduled flight to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, I didn’t count on the one hour luggage delay, long line of carts blocking my walking path, the immigration officer who wanted to hear every detail about my trip, or the airport security handwriting the flight number of every guest. So, when I arrived at the Sri Lankan counter 50 minutes before my flight, and found it closed for the day, I did what any civilized person would do…I cried.
I am not much of a “crier” so it even took me off guard. Don’t get me wrong, I have my standard crying moments…I am usually one of the loudest at wakes and funerals (mix of good relationships & bad memories)… and I always cried the day that teachers left when I had to work during the summer… And I can be counted on to cry when there is an unpredictably sad ending to any otherwise cheery movie or book (John Travolta’s Phenomenon) but I can’t recall a time I cried over a missed flight.
With tears forming in my eyes, the person working for the airline next door seemed anxious to have me move on. I was directed to the second floor of the airport where I imagined I’d find bustling ticket offices where I could reschedule my flight. Instead, I am here…with this nice young man who is trying to find me the Sri Lankan air reps. who are clearly at the gate saying Bon Voyage to my parting potential seat mates. This is clearly beyond his job description…heck, he has a machine gun… but I think he sees the lingering red eyes and wants to help. It must be an international phenomenon that men would rather jump in front of a bus than watch a woman cry. As we sit waiting, I have played charades telling the story of my three day journey and now we’re both laughing at what I believe to be my sense of drama. However, you can tell he will do anything to avoid further tears and just keeps hitting redial on that phone!
(Short writing break to let the milk delivery cart pass)
Ps…I am done with the crying because I recognize that it is surely a physical response of my confused body clock, days of airplane meals, and the need for a shower. I also recognize that I am at the beginning of an indulgent experience and I should not complain..
Ah…an answer to his call…to the office I go.