Are there any things in this life that makes us feel more out of control than the weather and airline travel? Merge the two and you have a recipe for disaster for most people.
It's probably worse for "control freaks" because they seem to feel most comfortable when they are in charge. How do you define a control freak? Well, probably start with anyone who is a member of the human race, with a pulse and awake.
Last Thursday, I was on my way home from a meeting near Kansas City when the weather decided to change my plans. Things were a little different on this trip because I normally drive to the airport in Dallas and have the certainty of arriving in Tyler about two hours after the bags come off the belt in baggage claim.
About 10 years ago, we were coming home from a trip and on the last flight to Tyler. We already were due to get home late when a convocation of mechanics began to gather around the nose of the plane we were supposed to board for our journey's last leg.
They kept pointing to some invisible malady and apparently agreed the plane should not fly. This was after at least an hour or two of debate. We were frustrated and decided it was time to get back in control. We rented a car for the trip home at an inflated one-way rate and got back about 2:30 a.m. Just enough for a brief nap before the kids had to be at school the next morning.
I took a solemn oath to never put myself in such a position again.
Well last Thursday, I took the bait again. It reminded me of a sign I had once seen a clearly disgusted Boston Red Sox fan holding up at the end of the regular season that read, "I can't believe we fell for it again."
This time the airline could not be faulted. It was Mother Nature. Heavy storms crippled flights to and from Dallas until finally all the flights to Tyler were canceled. I had tried to plan the trip in such a way that would get me back in time to see former President George W. Bush speak at an anniversary event for the school my children have attended.
Mother Nature decided my old chum Julie and I would drive home together with a stranger we met in line at the Hertz counter.
Watching people go through such experiences can be really entertaining. We had actually boarded the plane and taxied out for a long wait until the tower sent us back to the terminal. Meanwhile, a woman in her 70s was constantly scanning the radar on her phone as if to validate what the pilots were reviewing and suggesting to the kind stewardess she thought we might make it on a very circuitous route.
The bellyaching was growing and at one point the stewardess let everyone know she would be passing out granola bars because airline policy dictated a snack (once the plane had been boarded for two hours) at that point.
Once they took us back to the terminal, things really heated up. There was only one person to talk to 36 people, and one guy was berating a baggage handler on how bad the customer service was. The baggage handler rightly pointed out the airline could not control the weather. The guy wearing him out looked like he might have a stroke.
It reminded me of pastor Lou Gary Thomas or brother Lou, as many knew him when he used to offer the invocation in advance of a golf tournament. He would preface his appeal to the Almighty by letting everyone know he could not control the weather because as he put it, "I'm in sales, not management."
Once we drove home in the driving rainstorm, we reflected on the wisdom of the airline to cancel the flight. I sure am glad they were in control of that decision.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. Hope you all feel loved and appreciated today and every day.