While obsessive-compulsive might be a bit too dramatic, the label of hyper-worrier probably isn’t too far off. Once a small kernel of an idea plants itself in my mind, there is nothing I can do but stew on it until whatever it is has been taken care of. Sometimes it is a question of whether I left my curling iron plugged in on the bathroom counter, which I then fret over all day long, or possibly it is something as trivial as needing to make a list and check it twice to make sure no one is forgotten in the cookie plate festivities.
Most recently, this ability to worry unnecessarily was employed for the sake of our holiday travel plans. As “Holiday Flight Fiasco” details, there were some issues with arranging tickets home for the Christmas season and Thad did some rather impressive networking to make the trip happen. The fact that I was able to so smoothly book flights with our “won” tickets actually made me nervous. Was it possible that things were going to go off without a hitch? On top of worry about the tickets not causing any problems, a flight out of Baltimore’s BWI meant a much longer commute to the airport than our usual one-stop on the Metro to Reagan National Airport.
The plan was to use an airport van service to get from Arlington to Baltimore, so in order to schedule that ride, I needed to start at the flight departure time and count my way backwards to the necessary pick-up time. Thinking our flight was at 11AM, I figured we needed to be at the airport a minimum of two hours early since we were flying just two days before Christmas. In my mind I imagined ticket counter lines weaving back and forth, Disneyland-style, as far as the eye could see. Once clearing the first hurdle of checking bags (free when you fly Southwest!), my mental picture continued on to the security check area, where people in various states of undress shoved gray buckets filled with bags, coats, shoes and laptops through the x-ray machine while other people were getting their personal bits and pieces electronically scanned for all in some locked away back room to peruse. Two hours were going to be necessary.
With all of this in mind, I called the airport shuttle company and booked a pick-up time of 7:30 AM. As our travel date neared, I couldn’t help questioning my original timeline. More than once I wrote it out on a piece of paper, counting and recounting the hours and minutes available. Would three and a half hours be enough to be picked up by the van, pick up others also scheduled for rides at the same time, get through bag check and survive the lines at security? Doubtful, my mind told me.
Wednesday afternoon, I decided I didn’t want to lose anymore sleep over this issue, so I once again called the van company, this time rescheduling our shuttle for half an hour earlier- 7AM. Content that we would have sufficient time to make our flight, I turned my worrying back to more mundane concerns such as whether or not I had remembered to throw all of the used towels into the tub before leaving for class, making the housekeeper’s job just a tad bit easier.
Before we knew it, Chinese textbooks were stashed away, bags were packed and early morning alarms were set. Our shuttle not only came without a problem, but was actually early. We were on the freeway, headed into downtown DC by 7AM. After making two other pick-ups, we pulled up to the flight departure area of the airport right around 8:30AM. I was surprised to see the ticket counter fully staffed, with the Dinseyland-esque winding line being less than two 180 degree turns long. The magic tickets presented nary a problem and soon, very soon, we found ourselves standing in another line, security this time, worthy of being called a Christmas miracle. From the time we walked in to the front doors of the airport to the time we were standing in front of the mystic stack of TVs listing arrival and departure times, less than thirty minutes had elapsed.
It was at this juncture, standing with just our carry-ons slung over our shoulders, checking our gate number that we realized our flight was not at 11AM like I had thought, but it actually left at 11:30. That’s right. Due to my excessive (and apparently unnecessary) worrying, we were at the airport, ready to go, three hours before our flight took off.
Thad, being unusually calm about the fact that I hauled him out of bed hours before his normal wake-up call, suggested breakfast at McDonalds (pre-flight pancakes are a bit of a morning flight ritual for me) and then some window shopping in the odd array of airport stores.
Yes, we were there stupidly early, but in reality, I was so much calmer from the time I rolled out of bed until the moment we stepped foot in the jet-bridge leading to the plane than I would have been otherwise, so it was all okay. I figure if I can’t stop the hyper-worrying, I can at least manage it through a ridiculous amount of planning and list making. Luckily, Thad has had thirteen years of experience with my lovely quirks and just lets me obsessively organize and plot as much as necessary until the mental chaos is calmed. Be still brain, be still.