Our modern life is filled with games of “beat the clock.” Like when you’re racing to catch an airplane.

Many of us have gone through this nerve-wracking, physically exhausting experience. Maybe you couldn’t find a parking space or your connecting flight was late — whatever the reason, you suddenly find yourself sprinting to the gate and hoping the door hasn’t closed.

Remember the days when the airline attendant would see you coming and hold the door open? My husband recalls a time from long, long ago when the attendant would even reopen a closed door if the plane was still there. Imagine that!

Here are three true adventures of friends doing their best to catch flights:

The first took place years ago, before today’s tighter security checkpoints. My friend had a 7:10 a.m. flight from Indianapolis to Chicago to be with her dad who was undergoing surgery. But the alarm didn’t go off and she awoke 50 miles from Indianapolis at 6 a.m.

She did the math: a full-hour drive plus parking and catching the shuttle. Better drive the Corvette.

She sped along and then realized it wouldn’t matter if she was one minute late or 20 minutes late. If she missed the plane, she wouldn’t be there for the surgery. So, she put the pedal to the metal and REALLY went over the speed limit. Luckily, she drove without incident. (Do not try this at home, kids.)

On the shuttle, she tucked her blouse into her skirt and then ran barefoot to the gate. She yelled, “Wait!” as the airline attendant started to close the door and slipped in just as the door slammed shut behind her.

Later that morning, her dad’s face lit up when he saw her walk into the hospital room.

Story No. 2 involves three co-workers headed to a conference in Los Angeles where they were keynote speakers.

After the first flight leg was delayed due to mechanical issues, the travelers were forced to run from one terminal to another at O’Hare airport to make the California flight. If they missed the flight, they would miss their presentation.

One of the women fell when the heel on her shoe broke. She cut her lip, got right up and continued running.

As they approached the gate, the attendant paused and held the door. Bad news, he said, there was only one seat left. The airline had given the seats to standby passengers and booked the trio on the next day’s flight.

With one woman bleeding, two others completely out of breath and a single seat available, what do you do? Like any professional, they played “rock, paper, scissors.” The injured woman won.

The next day the other two arrived, but noticed their co-worker looked pale and in pain. Unfortunately, she had broken her ankle in the mad rush.

“Next time, I’ll give up the seat!” she said.

The third story, my favorite, is humorous now, but when it happened about 15 years ago, at least one person wasn’t laughing.

Standing in the Bloomington airport parking lot, my friend realized she had left her luggage at home. It was still in her kitchen — in Minonk.

She knew it would be nearly impossible to drive home, get the suitcase and make it back to catch the flight. So, she called her 10-year-old son on the phone.

“Get on your bicycle and pull the suitcase behind you as far as you can go,” she instructed. “I’ll meet you.”

So, the good-natured kid began pedaling his bike down the street while dragging the suitcase on rollers behind him. Neighbors stopped their cars and rolled down their windows.

“Are you running away?” they asked. “Does your mom know?”

When my friend met up with her son, the boy was plenty mad.

“I am humiliated! I hate you, Mom!” he cried as he turned around headed home.

The good news is he forgave her, and they have laughed about it many times over the years. And, yes, she made the flight.

Contact Susan Hazlett at susanrhazlett@yahoo.com or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.


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