The flickering of the little guy’s video game reflected onto the window in front of me, threatening to lull me to sleep as I waited...and waited...AND WAITED. It took me exactly seven hours to get from Atlanta to Tampa...on a plane. Well, sort of. Ugh.
Seven hours earlier…
It’s a good thing I left before I had initially planned. Horrific traffic in the middle of the day on a Tuesday? Unh-unh. I was completely sandwiched in (and my little red car) by five zillion 18-wheelers so I decided to take 85 though town instead of 285 around town. I just knew those big ol’ bears would be lined up on the 285-East ramp and they make me nervous to say the least, so my plan was to avoid as many of them as possible. My decision proved a pretty good one, and I arrived at Hartsfield way too early for my flight. But no problem, I can think of a lot of things I hate worse than hanging around the airport for awhile. Being at the airport these days is like being at a nice mini mall…shops, restaurants, coffee cafes, and little spots to indulge in a couple of my favorite pastimes…reading and people-watching. Oh, the things you see at the airport! So I grabbed the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens at the newstand, a Diet Coke, and hunkered down at my gate for the waiting process.
If I can, I always fly Delta Airlines. I trust Delta Airlines. Delta is the only carrier that flies nonstop from Atlanta to Tegucigalpa so my kids always fly Delta in and out of CA. Also, my son worked for Delta years ago until he saw the economy bottoming out and took his leave before he was forced to take a leave. Man, I sure do miss flying free! Show up at the airport, hop on a plane, and many times get upgraded to first class. Boy, those were the days. But lately I’ve ventured out to try other airlines and the “wanna get away” offer Southwest had to Tampa from Atlanta was too good to pass up. When I fly a new airline, I always compare it to my first love. Will the employees be courteous? Will they treat me well? Will they give me extra peanuts if I ask?! I am happy to announce that Southwest passed with flying colors and will be at the top of my list for short getaways in the future (you’re welcome, Southwest!).
As the Boeing 737 prepared for its final descent into Tampa International, the weather shifted. We went in and out of monstrous-looking clouds and sunshine accompanied by thunder and lightening. No worries, these guys know exactly what to do in the case of inclement weather. We were not cleared to land, so we entered a circling pattern somewhere between the clouds and earth below. Shortly thereafter, I noticed the plane came out of the circling configuration and began to once again “fly straight" (for lack of a better term). No need for alarm. I was alarmed, however, when the captain came on and announced we would be landing shortly in Orlando. Whuut? Did I miss something here? Apparently I most certainly did. Turns out we didn’t have enough fuel to continue circling so they decided to hop on over to the Land of Mickey to refuel, and then flew directly back to Tampa where the weather had changed for the better and we were able to safely land. In the meantime, I was enjoying a texting conversation with my sweet daughter-in-law that went something like this: "We’ve landed. In Orlando! What, are you kidding me? Okay, hang on, Nana, I’m on my way to Orlando. Wait, no, don't leave, we’re coming back!" Finally, by 10:00 that night, I was safely headed to my son’s house with Angela where the rest of the family was patiently waiting for Mama and Nana to arrive.
It has been my experience in life that you can always find a silver lining in the cloud or sunshine in the midst of the storm (figuratively-speaking and literally sometimes as well). But usually the figurative sunshine comes from being patient, remembering things could be a lot worse, and just by simply accepting what cannot be changed. A little longer in an airplane? Not a biggie. But as we went in and out of sunshine and angry clouds, I glanced out my little porthole of a window and what did I see? The most beautiful rainbow! The good Lord's promise to us. I'd really like to think it was just for me, because I never heard one other person say they saw it. But the image to the right proves it was really there and definitely not a figment of my imagination. Yes, a rainbow for little ol' moi. It reminded me that even in the most dire of circumstances, we can find beauty and good. It was worth the extra flying time to see this stunning phenomenon. I have always been amazed by the beauty and colors of a rainbow. Now, I certainly know that being re-routed to land in a place where you hadn't planned to go is not that big of a deal, but I take nothing for granted. Taking off and landing an extra time in a plane give you one more opportunity to not take off or land safely. Fewer take-offs and landings are good in my opinion -- yes, very good I believe. I always try to fly nonstop if possible. And that rainbow sealed for me the promise of safe arrival.
So my adventure to the land of sunshine did take a full seven hours, but not entirely on the plane. And as most husbands would simply have to comment because giving their opinion is what they do best and they just cannot help themselves, my hubby's response when he learned of my experience? You could've driven there faster! Can't say that I disagree. The little boy playing the video game? Except for the vivid colors dancing on the window, I never heard a peep out of him OR his two brothers, one of which was only eight months old. Have you ever been on a plane with a screaming child? Not a pretty sight. Or sound. We can always find the blessings if we but only look.
As for the fuel thing? Okay, Southwest, you could do a bit better on that one! Put in a little extra for me next time, if you would.
Posted by CC
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