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IMG_3094The airlines moves tens of thousands of people every day.  They must have allowances for hiccups in the schedule.  If I can I like to slip through the system before a hiccup swallows me up.

Rats! Hiccup!  My connecting flight got me to Denver EARLY!  We were so early we had to wait on the tarmac for our gate to open up.

During our wait my phone vibrated quietly.  There was no human being on the other end of the line.  Instead, a text message announced that my last flight had been delayed.

There is a hollow feeling that comes with this kind of notification.  Admittedly, I frowned like a kindergartener who hears that recess has been delayed due to the weather.  That is where most of us learn to deal with disappointment, eh?

Adding an hour and a half to my travels was not too bad.  A casual lunch in the airport would take care of that unplanned stretch of time.  My sauntering through the airport was aimless and clearly without any hurry.

God never hurries, right?  He is never surprised, correct?  If my theology serves me correctly He is always right where He needs to be when He wants to be there.

If I am to be godly, then I guess I can roll with some of the punches of life’s little annoyances too.  Too bad life is not as simple as that.  One piece of unexpected news is too often the beginning of several more pieces.

My phone vibrated again.  Another delay was posted for my plane.  Then, another adjustment came.

By the time four changes had been announced, the host at the airport came on live.  There was something nice about that.  A real human being announced that my flight had been cancelled.

At the customer service desk, no one was smiling.  All of the agents wore a stoic face.  They looked like veterans of many wars.

My agent booked me on the last flight of the day to my destination.  I asked, “What happened to my plane?”  “It had mechanical problems.”  “Well, I don’t want to get on that plane at any time.”  She stared at me and laughed!

She gave me a dinner voucher.  That was nice.  I will get to where I am going eventually.

Worrying does not help.  Anger does not work either.  Patience can serve others just at the right moment with the right kind of elixir.

 

It was time to head to the airport for a reserved flight to Newark, NJ.  As I drove the 38 miles, I was pleased with my strategy.  The traffic flowed smoothly and I arrived at the airport with two hours and twenty-five minutes before my plane would take off.

Then, I got to the airport for the shock of my life.  I walked into a building that was buzzing with people, luggage being dragged and people sounding off with short tempers.  My briefcase was in tow along with my single wheeled baggage.

IMG_3278The line of people that was to my left was enormous.  I thought to myself, “I sure am glad that I am not in that long line.  That’s ridiculous.

Reality set in when I approached the check-in area for my airline.  The line that I had been walking past for the last 1/8 of a mile was the line that I needed to enter!  Argh!

Hurriedly, I walked back.  Many people who I were passing me were going to be in for the same rude awakening that I just experienced.  Finally, I arrived at the end of the line and took my place.

Scores of people flooded past me and formed into the even longer line.  People stopped and asked if I was in the line for the airlines that advertises cheap prices.  “Yes, I am.  Sorry!  The end of the line is way behind me.”

People were trying to cut in line.  Then, Houston police officers starting showing up.  They were not working for the Transit Authority or the Airlines.  The only reason that they were there was to keep order in the line.

The group that was arguing and complaining to one of the airline agents who happened to be trying to sort out the lines never did realize that if they had just stood in line with me that they would have passed their spot where they were arguing and be making some real progress.

Check-in only took one hour and thirty-three minutes.  TSA gave me pre-screening clearance.  That allowed me to sail through security without even having to take off my shoes.

I was waiting at my gate for fifteen minutes when the group of complainers showed up exhausted and still complaining and announcing that they would never fly this carrier again.  I just put on my noise-cancelling headset and turned on the switch to listen to some great praise music until the boarding announcement was called.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2779My computer whirred to life.  I was watching my time for a long commute but before I launched I wanted to check the traffic report.  My destination would require some creative routes to avoid traffic tie-ups.

The Houston traffic report popped up on a map.  Every route to my destination was either color-coded in yellow, orange  or red.  Everyone seemed to headed in the same direction as me.

A major traffic jam blocked the secondary route.  Yet, that computer marked that plan as the quickest  among the three that were available.  At least I had allowed twice the amount of time that I needed to make the journey.

Once on the freeway I took the toll road.  It was clear for now.  However, the DJ on the local Christian radio station warned us all to avoid that thoroughfare.  She was right.

Up ahead, the tollway looked like a modern Christmas tree with a string of red lights lit up as far as the eye could see.  Slowly I crept up and took my place in line.  Like hundreds of others I was waiting in line and paying for the privilege to do it.  That was weird thought.

IMG_2781Then, it started to rain.  Typical of Texas rain, it came down in massive torrents.  That made driving even more difficult.

Massive puddles formed on the road way.  People drove around these water hazards.  Most people drove around them.  A few splashed right through these temporary lakes and sent a spray of rooster tail proportions over their neighboring car.  At least it was entertaining while we crept along at single digit speeds.

Often I would glance at my clock.  I smiled.  There was plenty of time.  My obligations were still over an hour away.  Even a walking pace I would arrive on time.

There is something pleasant about Southern culture that makes these difficult moments manageable.  There were no horns blaring.  Most drivers were keeping a courteous distance in these tight quarters.

A few were aggressively trying to cheat.  One used the shoulder to move ahead of others.  But, by far that majority of drivers were patient and deferring the right of way to the minority exceptions who took advantage of the polite majority.

I like living in Texas for moments like these.  Traffic jams are in every part of the country.  Road hogs and road rage drivers are in every state.  Here, however, there is a greater calm.  I have stop writing, now.  Traffic is loosening up.  It is time to go.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

It was time to go out for a meal.  We were feeling adventurous so we called up Yelp.com to look for a highly recommended restaurant. 

Tonight we found a restaurant that was highly ranked for great food.  Different people complimented the taste, friendliness and overall experience.  Several key dishes were highlighted as well.

We walked in about 5.20PM.  There were only three tables that were occupied but a buzz of activity was stirring around the cash register and the serving window to the kitchen.  Nothing in the restaurant was noticeable when it comes to decor just as reviews on Yelp had concurred.

After looking over the menu, we made our selections.  The waitress was also the cashier, packager of take-out foods and greeter of the take-out customers who came in with hunger on their faces.  During a break of delivering package after package of take-out items I waved her down.

It was almost like surprising her when I called her over.  Yes, we are areal customers in your eatery looking forward to our first dining experience with you.  She smiled, took our order and served us a pot of tea.

Ten minutes passed.  Customers for take-out kept streaming in and picking up their dinner.  I was impressed with the steady stream of customers.

Twenty minutes passed.  All of the food that the cooks were passing through the window were in styrofoam carry-out containers. I was getting hungry.

Thirty minutes passed.  Now, my hunger was getting me grumpy.  I waved at the hostess.  She smiled and waved back, “Soon!”

The waitress disappeared into the kitchen and returned to bring us some hot soup that we did not order.  It was complimentary to soothe our hunger pangs.  This was a nice gesture and it worked.

Forty minutes later she brought our first dish.  She apologized and said that the take-out orders flood their place from 5-630PM.  That was accurate since after all of our food was on our table, she and cooks were relaxing, sitting down and reading the paper.  It was stunning to see the transformation.

By the way, the food was very good.  There’s nothing about the ambiance of the place but the taste and portions were worth returning, just not during this madhouse take-out hour.  God tests our patience.  Hunger is one of those testing grounds that is a huge challenge for our demanding appettites.

photo credit:

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without getting ready for Christmas.  It is the signal for gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Christmas will always be one of my favorite times of the year.  In fact  the busyness is one of the elements that makes this favored time of the year very special. 

My mind finds every opportunity to give me pause in a very busy life to enjoy this special season and the reason for it.  It is also a time to reconnect with family and friends.  Letting special people know how much they mean to me and how I value them in my life is a treat. 

One of the regular stops during the holidays is the U.S. Post Office.  I need to mail some items to family and friends in distant places.  Yvonne wrapped up some items and I was off to mail them.

I go the this government facility infrequently enough that I was trying to guess their holiday hours.  On a hope I showed up at the post office at 8:45AM.  My heart sank when I saw a line of people waiting to get in.

When I strolled up to the end of the line, I could tell that the office was not yet opened.  I asked one of the line standers and she told me that the office opened at 9AM.  Wow, I was more interested in making my way to my office and running one more errand before I would just wait in line.

Off I drove, finished an errand and stopped at another Post Office branch nearer my office.  There I had to feed the parking meter.  When  I walked into the federal building the line was massive.  I had left money for 8 minutes in the meter. 

Assessment was easy.  There was no way that 8 minutes would cover me so I returned the meter and bumped up my time to 22 minutes.  When I returned to the line in the Post Office, only one more customer had been added to the already lengthy number of unhappy impatient customers.

There was a lot of grumbling in the line.  People were not in the Christmas spirit.  I smiled at a few of the Grinches who only returned my cheer with an uninterested glower of apathy.

I finished with my transaction, thanked the clerk and cheerfully expressed, “Merry Christmas!”  She looked like she was going to go into shock.  Stammering back, “Uh, oh…yeah, same to you.”

photo credit: google image

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