December 2 Day 634: Ups and Downs

There were so many times things started to go wrong today and in the end, everything worked out just fine.

I got up early to take the morning flight from SEA to DCA. The highway was crowded. Cars were moving at a crawl. I wasn’t worried, because I always allow for plenty of extra time.

At the airport, TSA was smooth and boarding for my flight began right on schedule. For some reason, I sat in the wrong row. I prefer the exit row but was not able to secure one for today’s journey. That must of thrown me off my game. Passenger loading came to a halt as I moved to the window seat one row forward. I hoisted my backpack over the seat but managed to forget my purse under it. The women who asked me to move, found it, and pushed it forward.

As the time neared to close the doors, boarding seemed to have stopped. The entire row next to me was empty! I felt like I had won the lottery. Then came the announcement, “Good morning folks. This is your pilot. There is an issue we need to fix before we can take off. It might take several hours. So we are going to ask you to deplane until we have the situation taken care of. ”

I didn’t want to hang out in the airport for several hours. I was looking forward to catching up on some of the sleep that I lost in order to catch this plane. Gloom descended.

Walking down the aisle to deplane, a new announcement was made, “We have located a new craft. As soon as we are finished here, we will start the preflight check on the aircraft at gate D4. See you there.”

What could have been three or more long hours of waiting ended up being only 60 minutes from the first announcement of a problem to the plane doors closing on the second aircraft. However, this time the plane was full. All the seats in my row were occupied. Apparently boarding was stopped when the problem was initially identified.

Even though we started out quite late, the pilot assured us we would arrive close to on-time. The tail wind was fierce (clocking in at 200 mph) and made for a fast but bumpy journey. My seat mate did not like the turbulence. So we talked together to keep her mind off it. It ended up being quite pleasant. As predicted, we arrived exactly on time. And Alaska Airline even sent an apology email for the morning delay.

Clouds were ever present on our journey. This was one of the few time I could see the ground.

At the gate, I ran into my UW Tacoma colleague Dr. Carolyn West. With COVID, I think it has been more than a year and a half since we have seen each other in person. Ironic that it happened on the other side of the country from where we work together.

Alaska Airlines terminal at DCA. Me arriving from Washington and Carolyn returning to Washington.

And it was a good thing we stood around and talked because I received a phone call from “METRO WA AIRPOR.” I usually don’t answer phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but I’m glad I did. Apparently, I left my purse under the seat on this aircraft as well. (Maybe this is my subconscious telling me I need a new purse?)

If I hadn’t stopped to talk with Carolyn, I might have already exited the secure area and I wouldn’t have had my ID to get back in. Instead, I was 10 steps away from the gate and easily recovered what I didn’t realize I had lost.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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