I think it's generally good to accept fault where fault is due (or is most probably due), but--and I don't use this phrase very often--this wasn't my fault.
On Monday I flew into Boston to give a talk at the Wellesley College Hippocratic Society's Annual "Women in Medicine" lecture. The talk went wonderfully, and thank you so much to those lovely ladies (and all those departments!) for hosting, it was truly such a humbling honor to be back giving a talk in the same tiered lecture hall where, once upon a time, long ago, I sat there pretending to understand Organic Chemistry. I would have liked to have spent more time on campus--and my original intent was, indeed, to get to campus well before noon, so I would have the afternoon to walk around, visit old haunts, take pictures, and visit the bookstore for loot (I have my fair share of Wellesley outfitting, but I wanted to get some sweatshirts or whatnot for the kids, because I think there is probably nothing as cute as seeing little boys dressed in Wellesley gear), but as it was I didn't arrive on campus until less than an hour before the event began, and here's why: I missed my plane.
OK, so that sounds bad, like I overslept or something, but listen! Here's what actually happened! Let me say first that I am a historically neurotic traveller. When they say get to the airport two hours before your domestic flight, I get to the damn airport two hours beforehand--I like to think of it as leaving enough buffer time for two disasters. (I'm very "worst case scenario" in that way. Typical anesthesiologist.) It was a little busy at Hartsfield Intergalactic Monday morning (lots of business travelers, I guess) but I got my boarding pass at the kiosk and the security line moved through quickly enough so that I still arrived at my gate more than an hour before departure.
When they started boarding the plane, I moved to the front near the desk and waited for them to call my zone. First they boarded First Class. Then Zone 1. Then Zone 2. Then (wait for it) Zone 3. There were still a lot of people standing around--I assumed for Zone 4 (my zone) and a boatload of people waiting to fly standby. This flight, as well as every other flight to Boston out of Atlanta that day, was significantly overbooked, to the point that they were offering $400 vouchers to people willing to volunteer off the flight. I waited for them to call Zone 4. I also looked at the screen overhead to see if they were calling Zone 4. It only listed Zones 1 through 3. Then--this is the part that I thought was weird--the lady who was calling the boarding zones left her desk, walked through the boarding gate and closed the door. Guh? Maybe something was happening on the plane, I figured, and she didn't want to leave the door open in case non-ticketed passengers tried to rush the walkway.
But then she didn't come back.
I walked closer up to the desk, waited for the be-dreadlocked guy standing there to look up from whatever he was doing, and politely (I thought) asked him when they were going to board Zone 4.
He looked at me blankly. "The plane is gone."
I blinked. "Gone? Like...gone?" Maybe I was misunderstanding.
"Yeah, the plane just left. Where were you?" he asked me accusingly.
I looked at him in disbelief. "I've been standing here right next to you for the past 20 minutes! I was waiting for you to call Zone 4!" I pointed to my ticket, where "Zone 4" was clearly labeled. "You called Zones 1, 2, and 3, but I never heard you call Zone 4!" I gestured to the screen overhead, which was, indeed, also only displaying "Boarding Zones 1, 2 and 3." You never called me! You never called my zone to board!"
"Plane's gone. Don't know what to tell you." He shrugged, looking away, bored of the conversation already.
I had not been distracted. I was not on my phone. I was not wearing earbuds. I was standing right next to the gate. I also would like to note (and these are just things that I observed from the OTHER THREE FLIGHTS that I tried, in vain, to get on on standby) that during this particular boarding process no one ever said anything like:
"Boarding all zones."
"Final boarding call for flight XXXX."
"Paging passenger Au, final call for passenger Au." (I saw this on other flight where passengers didn't board on time but were checked into the airport--I, too, had checked in at the kiosk earlier that morning so in theory they should have known at least that I was there)
Could I maybe have not heard them call Zone 4 because I was, I don't know, daydreaming? Possibly. Could that have unfortunately have coincided with them also not displaying that same information on the screen overhead? Again, possible. Could I have missed ALL of those announcements, the boarding all zones, final boarding, them CALLING MY NAME if I was literally standing right next to the person making the announcement? Possible, I suppose, but I have to say, highly improbable.
People who know airline stuff (Blue, I know you work on an airline, though a different carrier than the one I was on)--what do you think happened? Did I do something wrong? I think the most likely scenario is that they were way overbooked and they just gave away my seat. How they could have done that when I had already booked, paid for, and claimed my seat, I cannot say. But I spent all day at the airport yesterday. It was, uh, a subpar experience. Luckily (and thank goodness for the wonderfully efficient people at the Hachette Speaker's Bureau) they got me onto an early afternoon plane to Philly, with a 40 minute connection to Boston. And I made it in on time and then everything was Swellesley. But that's why I have no pictures of the campus to show you. Well, except for this one picture of my accommodations at the Wellesley College Club, which were cozy and charming and overlooking Lake Waban.
Thank you, Wellesley, I miss you already. Again.
And screw you, Delta.
* * *
I'm 20 weeks this week, and getting Ye Big Olde Anatomy Scan tomorrow. This is the first time that Joe will actually be able to come with me--it was hard enough even scheduling one of us (me) for an appointment during the first two pregnancies; working both of our schedules into the mix would have been a pipe dream. (To be fair, we were both in residency when I was pregnant with Cal, and with Mack, Joe was in fellowship--generally two stages of life not conducive to ducking out midday. I think the only reason I was able to make my own appointment for Cal's anatomy scan was because I was on a NICU rotation at the time and everyone there was super-paranoid about congenital malformations and therefore more than happy to cover me for the half an hour that the ultrasound took.)
(Don't let this be a call for you guys to tell me stories about congenital malformations, by the way. I've seen them too, and am paranoid enough on my own, thanks.)
Anyway, here's to hoping that everything looks sweet, and that we get some nice pictures out of the deal. We'll post some of the better ones up here, of course. It helps that Joe got the scanner back up and running again. He gave me some long explanation of how he did it, but I stopped listening after he said, "So all I did was..."
Hope everyone out there is doing well.