“Dead week” was what we called the last week of the semester before hitting exams. That was when the frustration of having to submit unlimited assignments urged me to take a trip to a place – new and famous – right after the week was over. Well… California was the first name to pop in my head. So I heeded that call to action –and booked my flight on the spur of the moment! But what followed certainly didn’t pass in a jiffy, like most impulses naturally do. In fact, let me take you through the tale of my trip and allow you to experience the circumstance for yourself.
So, I had just submitted my last due assignment when I opened the website titled “Cheap Flights” and started looking for, well, cheap round trips that could fly me to the land I wished would wipe away the horrors of notes and books, and the rest of the crap that came with it. The next thing Iknew, I was all packed and booked to fly to California, all on my own. Except that I invited a group of distant friends, only so I could split the rent of the apartment. California is expensive, what else can one do?
On 6th November 2017, at 10:20 a.m. I took off for California. Many friends know how big an achievement it was – planning and managing the entire trip all by myself without a moment of anxiety – until I found myself seated right next to a man who kept asking me random, rather unnecessary, questions. In order to avoid him, I took out my phone only to seem busy and occupied. And this was the moment which now stands out as the first mark of my tragic downfall. As I revved through the newsfeed on my phone, I saw the last bar of the battery,red and blinking.
What the hell? What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to contact my friends at the airport?! My mind spurted out many anxious questions at a speed faster than light– well at least from what it felt like.
All these questions kept circling around my head, until I decided to forget about them, look out the window and enjoy the view.For how long, though? One may ask. If anything, I’m expert at panicking! On top of it all, some jerky turbulence almost spilled the complimentary drink clutched in my hand. I knew something was up, but forced myself to ignore. Little did I know that turbulence was just another sign of more trouble.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it will take a little while for the plane to land at the gate due to air traffic. Please don’t leave your seats,” said the flight attendant.
“Damn it!” I muttered under my breath.
It took around an hour to land at the gate only to find my dead phone, cold and still. No signals;no battery; nothing. And there I was,only imagining a group of friends leaving for Times Square as per schedule.
I was at the airport, at 10 p.m.running from gate to gate in the hope of finding the group of girls I was supposed to be with. No hope. No sign. Hence, I decided to get a cab so I could make a timely check in at the rented apartment. The cab drivers sensed my foreignness to the place, and tried overcharging me.
“Hey! You can’t overcharge me just because I look clueless and lost, sir!” I said and refused. “Suit yourself” said the cabdriver in a lanky voice. This was the first encounter with a Californian native. I wasn’t quite pleased, I must add.
For the last time I decided to borrow a phone, call and check up on the girls. I went up to a cop and asked for her phone. She did not refuse, but gave me a strange look. Maybe it was just me, too susceptible to everything at the time. As the bell rang, one of the girls picked up the phone and informed me about their delayed flight. Now I had another 20 minutes to sit and wait at the airport.
While it all seems like chaos now as I glance back at that night,at the time, I remember having felt quite relieved.
As I took a deep sigh of relief, I realized all the little decisions that I had made—from not taking the cab despite my helplessness to refusing to ask a complete stranger for help —I had actually made all the right decisions that fit the grander scheme of things perfectly. Had I let my emotions get a hold of my rationality, I might have spent a $100 on a cab and missed out going to the city as we did right after formally meeting and greeting each other the second we found each other.
I know it may not appear as a huge deal to you but let me tell you, situations like this one can easily scare me and make me panic. Following my fortunate whim, from booking flights to rejecting cabs, it all seems like an entertaining albeit instructive adventure. I would also add that one should not let emotion and reason battle with each other in difficult times when patience can be used as the guiding force. Take a deep breath and act from a place of persistent serenity.And let me tell you about something more tangible than patience, that also saved my back – it was my phone service and the internet connection that kept going until my phone inconveniently died- and that was also available right after I charged the phone at the airport. I remember keeping myself company in all the awkward and stressful moments. I even watched online shows during the in-between hours of boredom. If you are flying solo, make sure your phone is up to the mark and as far as internet, phone or TV services are concerned, you should consider checking California’s cable companies, beforehand, to ensure reliable technology to comfort you in case you have to put up with unforeseen circumstance as I encountered – something seemingly little to share your burden, nonetheless a savior.