Thursday, July 3, 2008

Knuckle Update: Pass on the Buddy Pass

Just try and visit mom in the home the weekend before Independence Day. Just try!

I won’t mention the particular airline, cuz it ain’t their fault EVERY employee not working a gate was trying to get to and from Tampa this weekend. Thinking I could manage it and forgetting that my other experiences with using buddy passes were good because they were from people with A LOT of seniority, e.g., my dad (TWA DOE 1948) and my sister (TWA DOE 1968), I trained on down to Hartsfield last Thursday evening hoping to snag the last flight out. (note to self: call first, check weather in surrounding cities.) A little aerobic exercise in the form of sprints from one gate change to another (note to self: wear sneakers in Atlanta Hartsfield, home-town carrier commands gates in three, even four concourses, gate changes are not made to accommodate you) before fetching up at 10 p.m. at very long line. Made friends with fatigued full-fares who had deplaned from 4 hour siege of Charleston airport.
Great people watching. Six of us left behind at midnight to try again on first flight out following morning. It is well-known fact that the best flight out is the first as everything goes to hell from there. Also, first flight out is rarely cancelled as they always need the plane to be where it’s going.
Marta back home, slip through empty downtown streets to condo. Weirdly quiet. Did notice that homeless guys on and around Peachtree Center were all eating heartily from Styrofoam boxes. One bellowed for money, “I need a Coke!” I’m sure he was right. The night was, after all, quite warm.
Four hours later, on Concourse E after only one gate change, and that a false alarm (maybe a mile of walking between E and A? any takers on this, I can’t be sure. Would have worn Nikes but they, unlike me, were already in Tampa).
Lovely visit. The Knuckle was on her best behavior. Sister in law, as always, a sweetie to pick me up and hand over car keys. A little too much wine at Jolly Mon’s in Delightful Dunedin bitched my participation in the “Thanks for the Mammories” team training walk following day, but I did get to feel young again knowing I could still hurl cookies without kneeling before the porcelain altar. Suspect inner-thigh work with Pilates ball to thank for this.
Getting back took just as long. Charming interplay with security at Tampa on both Sunday, when I camped out from 5 to 12 noon hoping to get on a flight (Finally tapped the gate agent who reminded me most of my sister and asked, “If you were me, what would you do?” (Answer: Got friends in Tampa? Call them.) and Monday when, because I was not actually booked for a seat, I was “selected” for a more intensive search. This meant standing around for five extra minutes barefoot in large airport (gross) but Tampa’s architectural organization is superior to most municipal projects. Moving from one gate to another here is no more difficult than shifting in one’s seat. Thank you, Carlos Alfonso for the spoke and wheel design.
But here’s what I blogged on to say: During the weekend, I picked up Deborah’s copy of The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. This is not just another self-help book preaching the benefits of a good deep breath and don’t worry, you’ll never stress again. I didn’t read it all, I opened at “random” (ha!) and read from there, somewhere towards the end where writers usually pick up speed and start putting out what you’re paying them for, that life is, indeed, a matter of balancing the present with the ego. Everything not present, like this breath right now, is ego.
So when I watched my name flicker down at the low point on the Stand-by list that Monday morning (the buddy pass had a DOE of 2007), I followed Tolle’s advice and simply observed my sensations. Observing the sensations and the feelings of anxiety absolutely short-circuited what otherwise would have been feelings of anger and frustration and a grown-up’s version of a temper tantrum. (I mean, don’t we all really believe, deep down, that a good head of tears will get us what we want? I know the young man who turned to me at the check in line at 5 a.m. and bawled “I’m so PISSED” may have actually thought I gave a crap). (note to self: if you leave your cell phone at home, as this man did, there are rental kiosks in both Atlanta and Tampa airports)
Remembering Tolle’s advice saved my blood pressure and self respect Monday morning. Sure enough, I didn’t get on the first or even the second flight out that day, but I got home eventually, the journey itself, as much a part of the trip as the destination.

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