It is amazing how being late by 10 minutes can cost you hundreds of dollars and force you to make life-changing decisions in minutes.
Today I was supposed to fly out of College Station at 7:05 a.m. I arrived at the airport at 6:45 a.m. where I was promptly told that because I was not there 30 minutes early, I couldn’t get on the plane. Obviously I burst into tears. I would have never gotten to the airport so late if I weren’t in tiny, teeny College Station. I was told you don’t really have to get there that early. Apparently you need to be there more than 30 minutes early, though.
It normally wouldn’t have been a big deal to push my travel plans back to accommodate stand-by flights, but I had two connecting flights and a shuttle connection on Detroit. Things were not looking good. The ticket worker told me I could easily get on stand-by flights to Dallas and Chicago, but getting to Detroit would be tricky. The flights were oversold, and it looked like I’d be spending the night at the Chicago airport.
It didn’t help that interviews for A&M this past week were mentally and physically exhausting. I had to be “on” for three days on top of suffering from sleep deprivation. Last night I burst into tears again, dreading having to repeat the same “look perky, meet tons of strangers, pray people hire me” scenario in Ohio with just a day’s worth of plane rides separating the two conferences.
So it came down to two choices: get to Chicago, sleep there, somewhere, and get to Bowling Green on Sunday; or forget the whole thing and go home. I called my mom in tears, looking for comfort and guidance.
Being 10 minutes late forced me to look at the situation and ask really hard questions: Do I even want to go to Bowling Green? Would I actually be happy there knowing I wasn’t at A&M? If I don’t get into A&M, would I be happy with Bowling Green instead? If I don’t interview at Bowling Green and I don’t get into A&M, what will I do next year? Stay at the Y? Get an internship? Move home? Move to College Station and try to find a job?
Do I sleep at the Chicago airport, furthering my exhaustion, only to try to put myself together for Bowling Green interviews, or do I just throw in the towel and go home, trusting that God, after putting A&M on my heart for six months, will get me there?
Of course, it’s totally easy to make these decisions on fewer than 5 hours of sleep in an airport in the middle-of-nowhere Texas with mascara running down your face and an empty stomach. Right.
There were many scenarios considered, and none of them were cheap. If I took my stand-by flight to Dallas, I would need to get from Dallas to St. Louis. I could change my Southwest flight originally for Detroit to St. Louis, but that would cost money. I could get a hotel in Chicago, but that would cost money.
Finally, after crying and thinking in the airport for an hour, I decided to call Bowling Green to see if they would allow me to do phone interviews; good news: they would. With that, I decided to take my stand-by flight to Dallas, spend some time recovering from the ordeal with my family, then change my Southwest flight to take me back to St. Louis.
That’s when I discovered the absolute ridiculousness that is American Airlines. I could fly stand-by free of charge, but if I wanted to get my checked bag anywhere other than their final destination in Detroit, I’d have to buy an entirely new ticket. Don’t ask me to explain why. It was something about “contracts” and how I was late, so it’s my fault and they were doing me a “service” to even let me fly stand-by. I lost it at the ticket counter. I later apologized profusely, but I might have said something to the extent of “I WILL NEVER FLY AMERICAN AGAIN.”
Fortunately, I have a gracious, generous family who was willing to help me fix my costly mistake. And so my checking account remained at it’s precarious “I have fewer than $200 to my name until payday on Wednesday.” level. PTL for my parents and grandparents.
So here I sit now, waiting to go through security, absolutely yearning to hug my mom and dad, eat something and then sleep for a very long time in my own bed, not someone’s couch.
The truth is I want to be at A&M. I’m going to be happiest there. I already have an apartment lined up with a community of Christian girls from the two homegroups I want to join (which will actually probably make that decision of having to pick one of them even harder). I want to be closer to my family. I feel like God has put this place on my heart, and so I’m taking the leap of faith to trust him completely with abandon. I felt like my interviews went well, even if the 27 candidates all lead campus tours, were RAs and ran orientation. It’s competitive, but I feel like I’m supposed to be here, and if I am, I will be.
I’m still going to do phone interviews for Bowling Green, and if I get in there instead of A&M… well, I’ll cross the bridge when/if I get there. I should know about my College Station fate by Friday, and until then, all I can do is hand it all over to God, get some sleep, love my family and do the best I can.