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A $75 Lunch

June 14, 2017

I’m a seasoned traveller. I’ve travelled all over the world; India, China, Europe, Asia, Shreveport. Very little rattles me. I have a completely seperate travel kit. I pack in about 30 minutes. Yesterday I travelled from Salt Lake City to Shreveport, LA.

It didn’t go well.

My daughter is learning to drive. That’s important because she needs my car for practice. I needed to leave my car at the train station. That meant I had to leave my car at the train station. Utah isn’t known for it’s public transportation. We love our cars, but we’re starting to get public transit religion. My flight from Salt Lake to Atlanta left at 7:00AM.

I realized that if I caught the 5:07 Frontrunner train in American Fork, it would get me to the North Temple Steet stop at 5:59am. At 6:06AM the northbound Green Line train would pick me up and get me to the airport at 6:20. Is that early enough to print boarding passes, get through security and catch a 7:00am flight?

Let’s find out.

I made it to the train station at 4:57. Ten minutes to spare. For the hour trip North I should have been writing, or reading, or sleeping. Instead, I stared at my watch. I’m not a nervous traveller. Typically, I plan the best I can and then relax. But knowing I was going to cut it that close, I couldn’t relax.

It’s moving day at the Utah Missionary Training Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The train was full of Elders and Sister missionaries headed to the airport. I overheard some of them worrying about their travel plans. I definitely could sympathize.

The Green Line train was right on time. Even though I had an electronic boarding pass, I took the time to stop and print boarding passes. As a seasoned traveler, I have TSA Prechek. I breezed through security and arrived at the gate just as they were calling for boarding Group 1. I felt pretty proud of myself for timing it so perfectly.

Yes, I’m good at this. At least that’s what I told myself.

Atlanta has a huge airport. We arrived at 12:15pm. I decided to first find the gate for my Shreveport flight and then get some lunch. Fortunately, there was a nice BBQ place directly across from gate D26. My flight was leaving around 1:00pm. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and enjoyed my lunch. Occasionally I glanced at the gate, but they weren’t calling for any boarding groups yet. I was sure I’d be able to hear any gate announcement from my seat at the restaurant.

I was wrong.

I figured it out eventually. Settling my check I stepped across the concourse, just as they were closing the door. Here’s the thing about those doors. Once closed, they never open them. You could pound on them with Thor’s hammer and they wouldn’t budge.

The plane was right there. The skybridge was still extended. But, it might as well have been airbourn already. I can’t rememeber the last time I missed a flight. And certainly not for lunch.

Fortunately, there was another flight a couple of hours later. The catch? A $75 fee to confirm my seat.

It was a really good pulled pork sandwhich, but probably not that good. The most expensive lunch I’ve ever eaten.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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