Traveling is among my least favorite things to do. I would almost always prefer to be home. But I’m traveling for work today, stuck in Denver for another three hours until I catch my next flight. I have to tell you, though, I’m content at the moment because I am surviving a terrible, no good, very bad day.
It started out just fine. I woke up at 4:30, dozed until the alarm went off at 5 and jumped in the shower. I was on my way for a 9 a.m. flight by 6 a.m. and the following things happened, in this order:
I pulled onto the highway in pouring rain, confused that Siri was telling me I had an hour and fifteen minute drive in front of me when it’s normally not more than 45 minutes, especially this early. Siri rerouted me to save time via a totally unfamiliar route. In bumper to bumper traffic I looked down at my phone to try to figure out where Siri was sending me.
I looked up and accelerated into the truck in front of me. Being in a middle lane, I followed the guys in the truck to the shoulder. I met them halfway saying the words you’re never supposed to say, “I am SO sorry. This is totally my fault.” The driver checked out his bumper and said, “No damage here.” And then we both looked at my car. The picture tells the story.
He urged me to get into his pickup so I wouldn’t drown, and I hopped in. Well, I struggled up and in. I gave him my insurance information and telephone number, but I forgot to get any of his information.
I got back into my car and followed Siri’s directions to the airport in bumper-to-bumper traffic that I will accept on faith was better than I-294. As I was stopped at a light, I looked at my phone to see where I was on the trip. A guy in the car next to me was waving at me to roll down my window. He said, “You’re texting aren’t you? I’ll bet that damage to the front of your car happened because you were texting. Stupid bitch.” He lurched out into traffic.
I gave him a weak smile, rolled up my window and after we’d gone a few miles realized that he was tucked in behind me.
At 8:15 a.m. I arrived at Wally’s, a parking place that’s much cheaper than O’Hare. They got me to the airport by 8:22. I went straight to the desk because I knew there was no way I could make a 9 a.m. flight and waited for a lifetime to get re-routed. As I was waiting, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I had taken the wrong bag. I had her husband’s bag and mine was back in the van.
After retrieving it, I got back to the airline desk and, like any self-respecting adult would, burst into tears. I was booked on a 1:30 p.m. flight to Denver and will take a 7:30 flight to my destination, probably arriving 17 hours after I woke up.
This is what I did in response to all of this: first, I stayed calm, although teary eyed. The key to my staying calm is to give myself a break and not go down the rabbit-hole of self-flagellation. My therapist is cheering right now.
Second, I got some help. I can not stand talking to people on the phone, so I texted my husband and he got the insurance stuff going. Insurance folks called me and were wonderful.
Third, I reached out to friends. This is when Facebook is at its best. I recounted my story and the sympathy and encouragement came rolling in
By the time I got to Denver, I was chill. I listened to a couple of meditations on the plane, some of my favorite music, and read a spy novel. Once I arrived in Denver I realized that real Mexican food was near and I had a burrito with red chile. (And a mojito.)
The airline personnel put me in an early boarding group and got me window seats for both trips, and I am grateful. But mostly, I look at my damaged car and remember that I’m very lucky to be able to afford a car, and to understand that it could have been a lot worse.
As I read the news, I check back into reality. People are dying and entire neighborhoods have been engulfed in fires. Puerto Rico is still in crisis. Our government is still chaotic. One headline recounted, “They threw my baby in the fire” during a conflict overseas.
The tapestry of my life is woven with glossy threads and scratchy wool. The tapestry is full and colorful and rich. This adventure is sewn in next to images of good friends and good food. My life is bound to my family and people who love me. This is most certainly not hell. It’s just a bad day that’s getting better.
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