This past October I had the opportunity to go to a Christian women’s creative conference at a retreat centre about 1.5 hours from Atlanta, Georgia. I’d followed the group Pursuit Community for a couple of years, and felt drawn like a magnet.
After three days of speakers, meeting new people, amazing food on an old dairy-farm-turned-retreat-centre, my new friend and I were ready to head to the airport. But not before checking out the 100-year-old mill we had heard was close by and worth the view.
My new friend was from Alabama, and had kindly offered to pick me up and drop me off in Atlanta, after we connected over the Facebook group. Praise for not having to drive myself! After we had taken a few pictures at the old mill, we hopped into her SUV. Instead of putting the vehicle in reverse, she went forward. Immediately, radiator fluid started to leak, and within less than a 1km distance, we were out of fluid and stuck on the side of the road. I had about 5 hours before I had to be at the airport. No worries, we’ll figure this out.
A kind local photographer stopped to assess the damage, and visited with us while we waited for the tow truck. Meanwhile, my phone data plan for the US was racking up as I tried to access local car companies and call my husband on my unreliable phone. I was panicking – driving the I-95 in Atlanta traffic was not something I was ready to take on, and I had no idea if there’d be a shuttle available in this small town.
We waited in the Georgian autumn heat, and I immediately regretted not grabbing more snacks for my purse. 16-weeks pregnant and not knowing when the next time I would eat wasn’t boding well!
After about an hour, our tow-truck came and dropped us at a local auto-body shop. I felt terrible that my new friend had me tagging along and likely wouldn’t have been in this mess if I hadn’t been in her care. She felt bad that our great week had to end this way.
As we waited at this hole-in-the-wall auto body shop, I scanned the room for a vending machine. Water cooler. Nothing and empty. The lady at the desk was eating her late lunch, and I almost asked if there was more.
I had made a call to a local cab company and secured a price for them to drive me to the Atlanta airport. ASAP. It was the same as me renting a vehicle and there was no way that was happening! After waiting twice as long as he said he’d be, the Latino Taxi Man showed up. Now, he had a hangry-pregnant woman on his hands! I confirmed the price with him that I had been told over the phone by his boss, and was ready to barter and fight if I had to. He said, “That’s a very very cheap rate.” I responded heatedly. “That is the price your supervisor offered me, and I’m not paying any more.”
I refused to get in the vehicle until he called his boss to confirm. After a quick hug to my new friend and her husband who had come to her rescue from Alabama, the Taxi Man and I were off to the airport.
Immediately, the smell of Lysol invaded my senses, nearly sending me over the edge from hungry to nauseous. After making a quick stop at a convenience store to get some more US cash, I figured I needed to make friendly with this gentleman since we had the next 1.5 hours to drive together to the airport and I really needed some kindness right about then. Something in me needed to be diffused.
From the backseat to the front, I began to ask where he was from and about his family. He was from Guatemala and had six kids, and six grandkids. As we merged onto the freeway, he rubbed the rosary beads hanging from his rearview mirror, and cross his fingers over his chest. That was either a really good sign, or a really bad sign for what lied ahead. I decided to take it as good, and as an open door to talk about faith.
I asked, “Do you pray to Jesus?” With some language barrier still between us, I could tell he didn’t quite understand. I responded, “I pray to Jesus too!” Taxi Man said, “You like that?” “Yes!”
As we talked back and forth about family the best we could, I shared that I was pregnant with my first. He lit up. He said how girls are so good for a father. His heart melted with pride for his children.
After about an hour of driving and still feeling oh-so-hungry, Taxi Man looked back in his mirror and could tell something was right. “You ok?”
The Chik-Fil-A mints I had in my purse just weren’t cutting it. I said how I was hungry and not feeling very well (I didn’t mention the smell of Lysol that added to that!). He reached down to his car door and handed me an aging banana. Never had I been so excited to see a browning banana!
I confirmed again that I was to be dropped at International, not Domestic departures. Again, I wasn’t sure he understood. As we pulled up to the Atlanta airport, he responded that all taxis do their drops at Domestic, and my connection would be just right through the door. I was flying through Chicago, and perhaps with all the huff and puff of the day, hadn’t put two and two together that, yes, Domestic was where I actually needed to depart.
I paid the Taxi Man the promised US rate, thanked him, and was off. As soon as I entered the Domestic doors, I was overwhelmed. I’ve been in a lot of airports, and the Atlanta airport has to be the largest and most confusing I’ve ever been in. Horrible signage. I was certain the Taxi Man had done me in, and dropped me at the wrong departure. After asking for some help from customer service, and watching the talk clicking until I had to be at my gate, the lady said that I needed to get to International (though I didn’t tell her my connecting flight was Chicago).
I found a shuttle that took me the 20 minutes to International. The lady driving the shuttle had a Purpose Driven Life book in her console and looked like Whoopi Goldberg. Again, I figured this was all a good sign. She helped me with my near over-weight bag, and I was off, certain that International was where I needed to be. Looking at my watch, I figured that I had just enough time to get through security and find a quick sandwich somewhere before boarding. Well, as soon as I got through those doors, someone else told me, “No darling, you need to be at Domestic.” I cried. For real.
I went back out to the shuttle pick-up, only to discover Whoopi Goldberg had made her rounds and was back again. “Didn’t I just drop you off?” she said. “Yes, I guess I need to be at Domestic.”
Back on the shuttle I went for another 20 minutes I didn’t have to waste!
Finally, I got to check in at my airline and my bag was just under the weight limit. Sigh. Something was working today! I followed the minimal signage to security, only to be met with the LARGEST line-up I have ever seen! Seriously, over 200 people were weaving slowly through to get scanned. I nearly cried again, but was thankful for that brown banana. But now my bladder was as full as it could be, I was still hungry, and the clock to take-off was ticking.
Because I’m pregnant, I opted not to be scanned, but have a body-pat-down. The lady was a southern black woman, and took her sweet time. She commented on my engagement ring and said to make sure my husband buys me a real good “push present”. I smiled and was off to my gate.
I had just enough time to pee, buy a sandwich and water, and get to my gate. This flight was so full that all overhead bins were consumed, therefore making us late in leaving as they sorted that problem. It was the first flight I’ve ever been on where I was asleep before take-off and woke up in the air!
Knowing this flight was late leaving, I was certain I was going to miss my connection in Chicago. Dollar signs began to ring up on getting a hotel for the night, taxi, food and figuring out the next flight out the next day. I’m like that – think ahead. As we landed just a short hour flight later, the stewardess mentioned the local time. I nearly did a happy dance in my seat. I had gained an hour! It would still be tight, but if I ran, I could do it.
I got off the plane as soon as I could, my back and feet sore, and swoob starting to take over my chest area. Picture a tired, hungry, and frustrated pregnant woman running through the Chicago airport with a carry-on that was way too big. That was me.
I found my next gate and saw they hadn’t even started boarding; they were late as well. Praise! I peed, grabbed some candy, and called my husband on what little battery charge I had left. Huffing, crying, and sweating.
“I made it to my gate. And I have Starburts.” He laughed. His voice never sounded sweeter and I couldn’t wait to be home in his arms. And out of those boots.
Our flight was about an hour late, and I slept and drank a latte on the way. I read some of my Baby Whisperer book. I was waiting for someone to engage and ask what I was reading so I could get some comedy from the day and share that I was learning about breastfeeding. I guess making someone else uncomfortable at that point would’ve brought me slight comic relief.
I finally made it home, after nearly a 20 hour-awake-day. The worst travel day ever, but one with so many moments. I cried as soon as I fell into Troy’s arms.
I share this very very long travel story because a) it’s just downright horrible AND funny b) If I look back on it, it actually sets the stage for what I want from 2016…
In 2016, I want to be more intentional with relationships. Whether it is using my voice to speak into a situation, being more vulnerable, engaging someone who is otherwise unengaged, or just outright connecting with loved ones in a deeper way, I want to connect more. Thank you Taxi Man for showing me what a little bit of kindness can do to soften a situation.
And knowing that this year is the one we become parents and there will be so so many transitions, learning curves, and changes… I want to rely on God’s grace and let my imperfect and high expectations go out the window so that God can give me what His best is for Troy and I. Whether things are what I expected or anticipated, I will trust Him to get me home at the end of the day.
When a day that started in search of some simple beauty, and then ended up very messy, I still made it home, safe and sound. May 2016 be a year where we learn to be thankful for the simple and small things along the way…
Happy New Year to you all!!! xo