I’m usually early to everything so you can imagine how I felt when I missed a flight.
I had taken the 407 – the toll highway – just to ensure that I was at the airport in time. I wasn’t even running behind, I just wanted to take what is normally a stress free drive. I normally would have arrived at least an hour ahead. But as soon as I got on the highway I knew there was a problem – an accident. I was confused. I just listened to a traffic report – it means the accident must just have happened.
Fortunately the traffic wasn’t at a stand still, it was moving – though very slowly… but I still had hope. And, I had left early. I should be fine I was telling myself.
When I made it to the check-in counter they sent me to the express lane. I thought I was good. But the express lane was taking forever even though there was only one person in front of me!
Then I received the news: “We can’t put you on this flight,” followed by, “The next flight is five hours later and it will cost you $150.”
I made a last ditch effort to try and make my flight – I still had 35 minutes before take off – but because I had luggage, she wouldn’t let me do it.
I took out the credit card and paid the fee.
As I did so, I was reminded of a story I’d heard from a man who inspired me.
It comes from Keith Harrell – author of Attitude is Everything. Harrell was an author and a motivational speaker, and he is someone I studied when I got into the speaking business.
One time his flight was delayed and he was in line to get another flight. As he waited he could hear people in a similar position venting their frustrations to the attendants at the counter. One person was yelling, screaming, and cursing at the attendant. She was calm in her response, repeating “I’m sorry sir, that’s the best we can do.”
When it was Harrell’s turn, he was informed that the next fllight was several hours away.
“Super fantastic!” He replied. The attendant was confused. “I said, I’m sorry sir, but the next flight won’t be for several hours.”
“Super fantastic!” – which is Harrell’s trademark saying.
He knew he didn’t have a choice, so he decided to be positive.
His message – We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude and how we respond…
The bright side was that I was going to make it my destination – just a little later than planned.
Truth is, I don’t mind spending time at an airport. I have a laptop and I have an internet connection. I’m able to send emails, write, blog, plan, etc.
The other thing I said to myself is… “I wonder who I might run into?”
You realize how small of a world it is when you are at an airport.
Sometimes I will see someone I know – usually someone I haven’t seen in a long time… I remember as a teenager running into my childhood neighbour. Nowadays I often run into musicians that are on flights heading to a show.
An hour into my delay I ran into an old friend. Hadn’t seen her for ten years.
I checked into an airport lounge – one of the best things I’ve discovered about airports – so I got a chance to enjoy a buffet, complete with an endless supply of coffee and juice, while typing this on the comfort of a desk, as opposed to the usual a cramped airport seat.
Sure I could be upset that I missed my flight, but I’m grateful it happened on a day such as today where I didn’t have any appointments that I would have to reschedule. It is just a slight inconvenience.
A few months ago I did a Google search on Keith Harrell to see what he had been up to. I was saddened to see that he had passed away. He was young – only 54. He died of cancer.
While Keith is no longer here, his message lives on…
Attitude is Everything.