Gate May Be Subject to Change

Monica is a senior from the Bay Area, California. She loves playing video games, reading fantasy, listening to rap, and doing pretty much anything that works together to highlight her individuality.


plane, lessons, flying, confusion, stress, personal story, firsthandUp until a few days ago, I was worried that none of the stories in my life would be worth noting. Most of what I have learned so far comes from my parents’ advice and the advice of others because they have experienced problems first hand. Movies with morals, religious texts, and fables of all kinds have also made up a big part of my education, though it really has been up to me to discern what matters and what does not. My problems, though, come when I have not decided what warnings to ignore and which ones I need to be wary of.


Yesterday, I flew in from a conference, called NODA, for new student orientation directors at various colleges. In my group from San Francisco State University, twelve of us flew in with a supervisor, and of those thirteen in total, nine of us flew on the same flight from SFO to LAX. I was already struggling as soon as I stepped foot in the airport. I had forgotten my boarding pass at home and did not know whether I needed to check my bags or not. I had no idea what a terminal was and where I needed to enter for my flight or to meet up with the people who could help me. Utterly lost, I can easily say that I would not have survived that day or made it to LAX without calling each of my friends. It took me about an hour to get through the system, but I was able to finally get myself safely onto the plane with my cohorts so we could attend our important conference. I was no longer concerned about planes, the airport, or flying out. I thought that since I had now flown once “by myself,” I would be fine flying back as well.


You can guess that I had problems getting back since we did not all plan together. My first bout of trouble came when I realized that I had accidentally booked a different flight than the other two girls that I was supposed to be flying in with. We were going to fly in to a more convenient location at a more convenient time for a more convenient price, and all together, so the whole plan was genius and should have been able to be pulled off without a hitch. I looked down at my ticket, however, compared it to theirs, and realized that they would be going back home without me. That was a sad parting moment, but it brought me little anxiety since I “knew” that I would be on the next plane to the airport in only an hour more. I sat back down for an hour with my Kindle and read, completely absorbed in the story. I did not see many other people around me, but I brushed the nagging in the back of my mind by reassuring myself that the other travelers would all come at once. I checked my ticket fifteen minutes before takeoff, walked up to a help desk, and sat back down, thinking I was simply being paranoid. Five minutes before my plane was supposed to take off I decided that things were not going right.


I looked at my ticket again to see if I was at the right gate- I was. Still, I had to ask about my plane and when I did, it turned out that the gate at which it left had changed. In a panic, I rushed down to the new gate only to find out the plane had left. I was in Southern California with no family or friends to help me out, and hardly any more planes leaving that evening going towards the Bay Area. After another hour and a half of anxiety, rushing all over the place, calling my parents and others who could help me, and more general confusion, I was able to get a flight leaving that night landing at SFO. Even though I was three hours behind schedule, it was better than the alternate option of waiting in the airport until the next morning. Still, the unexpected expense was energetically and financially draining and caused other stressors for both me and my parents that night.


I was quite lucky that this happened while I was traveling within the same state at a place where I could easily communicate and could stay if need be. I was safe, but frustrated. I believe experiences like these are the best way to ingrain a lesson in one’s head. If something bad enough happens to you, you will take steps to avoid subsequent problems. The primary lesson I learned from this to always be aware of my surroundings. My father, who works in law enforcement, is huge on this and always takes time to show me movies, television shows, or news stories that highlight the consequences of not constantly being aware of your surroundings. If you become aware at the last minute, chances are great that you will suffer some kind of issue. Hopefully, it will be small enough to not greatly impact your life and still be large enough to leave an imprint in your mind to always know what is going on around you and in your life. This experience taught me that I need to constantly be checking to make sure I have the right information and that I need to survey the area no matter what situation I am in.


Photo: Brian Smith from Flickr


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