Last Wednesday morning I flew to Cape Town. It is a two hour flight and my workshop with a client started at 11am. I had deliberated over the time of my flight as there were only two times available with the service provider I preferred; 6am and 8am. A flight at 6am means that I have to get up at 3.45am to get to the airport in time even if I do on-line check in the night before. I decided 8am would be pushing it to get to the venue on time so I book the 6am flight. The small silver lining to the early morning cloud was that I would be able to have a leisurely breakfast with my colleague on the other end and would have time to freshen up and relax before the workshop started. I was presenting a short section which always makes me a bit anxious, even though I do present regularly.
The drive to the airport was uneventful [I have taken wrong turns in the past and arrived late and in a panic – I have no sense of direction at all]. I passed through security and went straight to the boarding gate, thinking I would sit and wait while enjoying a strong cappuccino. People were boarding at the gate but it wasn’t for a flight to Cape Town. Oh uh! I walked back and checked the flight board – my flight had been delayed 90 minutes until 7.30am but the gate remained unchanged. I was annoyed – I could have slept for an extra 90 minutes. For some reason an early start always leaves me feeling like chewed up string. A later night is more manageable for me even though I consider myself to be a morning person. So I sat and worked for 75 minutes sitting on a very uncomfortable chair in a small airport café. I resorted to eating a very sweet and stale blueberry muffin in lieu of my planned relaxed breakfast and the cappuccino was so horrible I couldn’t even drink it. At 6.50am I made my way back to the boarding gate and sat down to wait out the 10 minutes before boarding started. The next thing, all the waiting passengers jumped up and stampeded, just like a herd of elephants, across the airport. Naturally I felt obliged to follow as I guessed the boarding gate had been changed. Indeed it had, to a gate right on the other side of the airport. They [those unknown and unreachable planners of flight departures who ensure that boarding gates for connecting flights are as far away as possible from the point of landing of the previous flight) had changed the gate to the furthest gate possible just to heighten any inconvenienced caused and make sure any minor feelings of remaining goodwill towards the airline were completely obliterated.
My flight ended up only boarding 30 minutes later with the result that all the passengers stood in a queue at the new boarding gate for 30 minutes. To pass the time, I started chatting to my fellow passengers and hearing their stories.
There was a lovely young girl travelling back to university. She had been home for the long weekend and needed to get back for a test at 9am. She was quite upset about the fact that the delay meant she would miss her test. She didn’t know whether her lecturer would let her take the test on another day.
There was a bald headed man with a great smile and jolly sense of humour. He owned his own company and was going to Cape Town for meetings with clients. He had successfully re-planned his morning to accommodate the delay. He was travelling with an employee who was feeling quite jaded as she lived out of town and had been up since 3am in order to make the 6am flight.
The IT consultant behind me was travelling down to Cape Town for two weeks to install a new IT system for a client. He was also a jolly fellow who was taking the delay in his stride.
There were two young ladies further forward in the queue. One had hair dyed a shade of purple which made her quite noticeable. They were travelling to Cape Town to present training and were discussing changes to their agenda in order to fit the entire two day workshop into a shorter timeframe.
There was a young lady who worked for a large insurance company who was travelling down for training. As she was being trained so that she could roll out the training in Johannesburg, the training course was being delayed by two hours to accommodate her.
Last but not least was the lady executive who was travelling down to Cape Town for a very important meeting at 9am. The meeting could not be rescheduled and she was livid about the delay. She was ranting and raving to anyone who would listen about the inconvenience.
So were to two hours wasted. Not for me. I really enjoy meeting and talking to new people and had some interesting chats to my fellow stranded passengers. I would have preferred to sleep in for an extra 90 minutes if I had known about the delay. As I didn’t know in time, I like to think I just made the most of it and didn’t waste energy getting annoyed and irritated about something I could not change.
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