Notes from the Road


I am going to miss my flight!!!!

This thought hits me like the final verdict. It is the 14th of January 2012. It’s my father’s birthday and the first time I’m going home after working over Christmas at the hospital!

This though resounds in my head and I visualize the events of today, what went wrong?!


9h45 – I arrive home from my last and hectic 3rd night shift in a row. In a normal day I would have gone to sleep and woken up at 8pm with an upside down sleep pattern. But today I have a flight at 5h10pm and I still have to pack the big luggage with all the presents for family and friends.

Soon it’s time to leave to the airport and I am quite surprised how organize I am today. With no rush, I get the underground and in 20 minutes I arrive at the Victoria train station. I head to the next train departing to London Gatwick airport, find a seat and relax.

A few minutes later, we are still stopped. I look at my watch – it’s 10 minutes to 3pm. I ask a gentleman what time do we arrive at the airport: “4h40pm Miss.”

Ohw, really?! Hm but…, hold on, what time is it?! 3.50pm?! NOT 10 to 3… I quickly check the flight ticket and I confirm that at 4.40pm the gate closes! The flight is at 5.10pm!!!!

I am going to miss my flight!!!!

I must have been so tired that I calculated wrong the time to leave home and on top of that I have been misreading the time too.

I am left with a little hope that something will delay the flight in the next 40 minutes. My frustration quickly leads the other passengers of the train sitting near me to share their stories of how I once nearly missed a flight…

Think positive, Andreia, keep thinking positive!

4.39pm – I arrive at the train station of Gatwick. Running with my big suitcase and my hand luggage, I still have to change terminal and check-in the big luggage.

4.45pm – The man at the check-in desk verifies that the plane is on time, passengers are boarding now and it is too late for me to check-in my hold luggage. “Go over to that desk to transfer your ticket to the next flight, which is tomorrow.

4.47pm – In an impulse I run downstairs to drop my suitcase at a Luggage Storage – “I’ll be back to pick it up in half an hour or in 10 days” I said to the man behind the counter. The receipt he gave me registers 4.55pm.

Now security… desperately showing my ticket I walk my way up the cue kindly asking people “Please, I’m still trying! Thank you!”

5.05pm – Done with security I read the departures panel:


But, I’m here I can’t give up! and I start running all the way to gate 101, which by the way is the last of the longest corridor of this airport…

My legs feel weak, my arm hurts from carrying the hand luggage, my mouth is dry, I am breathless and all I hope is that these rolling stairs are going to be the last ones. Gate 99… 100… 101!

The hall is empty; a man behind the computer is tidying up the desk; the airplane looks like it is still here and out of breath I ask “Please Sir, call the airplane, ask if they could still open the door!”

He didn’t even blink and obediently grabbed the phone, a few seconds later I heard him ask: What is the situation of the flight?

I cross my fingers and lower my eyes to the ground, hoping for a positive answer. The silence felt like hours. He then touches my arm and says:

“I’m afraid it is too late, Miss. They have instructions to proceed with take off. They are already removing the connection from the airplane. Miss, recover your breath and I will tell you what to do after.

The last lashes of hope that kept me running against time were now taken away from me like a candy is taken away from a child. Tears filled up my eyes instantaneously. I cover my face, trying to figure out how am I going to explain to my parents that I won’t be home today to celebrate my father’s birthday and Christmas all together. Everybody is going to be there and I messed up.

I look ahead and the airplane is still there… right there. The connection is now almost completely removed. My eyes then meet the pilot eyes. He and the Commandant are smiling at me. The Commandant waves at me. I wave back and put up my shoulders as to say – too late. They exchange some words and looked back at me, but this time the Commandant isn’t waving goodbye, he is waving to invite-me in… wait, HE IS CALLING ME IN?!

I must have had confused cartoon eyes, because they looked amused.

Next thing I am being greeted at the door by the Commandant of the airplane. I felt like jumping on him and hugging him, but I stopped myself of doing so and instead I ended up holding his hands and doing something that I could only describe as a deep and long bow. “I can’t thank you enough!”

When I faced the passengers to look for a seat I realized the eyes of hundreds of passengers were on me. Dear reader, let me tell you, I didn’t look pretty, you know, when I cry my face gets red patches and looks swollen. I wished for a seat right at the front but I had to walk all the way to the back to eventually find one… and relax. 30 minutes later and the plane hasn’t moved. The Commandant then announces that we missed our slot to take off and had to wait for another. Ooops, I’m sorry!

3 hours later, I was so pleased to find myself in the back of my parents car, but the presents stayed in the Luggage Storage to be collected 10 days later. Next time I come home, I’ll bring the christmas presents…


A note on the side…

Being a nurse and living abroad has thought me that Christmas is whenever one wants and it is all about being with the ones you love. I have celebrated Christmas at the beginning of December, in January and once it even happened in April. There are no rules to it, but to share the love.

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