Three weeks ago, I flew to Boston to attend my son’s graduation ceremony. My flight to Boston was scheduled to leave at 7pm. On that particular day, I worked very hard to finish my day early, but I was still completely swamped. Even though I skipped lunch, when 4:00 pm rolled around, I still had a lot to do. I closed my laptop anyway.
Absent-mindedly, I called Uber to take me to the San Francisco Airport. In the meantime, I packed my luggage as quickly and as lightly as possible for my two-night stay in Boston. When the Uber arrived, I got into the car, briefly greeted the driver and quickly opened my laptop to continue my work. I became totally engrossed in what I was doing. Suddenly looking out the window, I realized that we were already near the San Francisco Airport.
The Uber driver asked me, “What terminal do you need to go to?”
Momentarily perplexed, I answered, “Hmm, wait a second please. Let me check the app. Oh, it says Terminal A. Please go to Terminal A.”
Then, the driver quizzically responded to me, “Excuse me? Terminal A? Are you sure?”
I affirmatively said, “Yes, the app says, it is Terminal A.”
The driver replied, “The San Francisco Airport has Terminal 1, 2, 3, and 4. It does not have a Terminal A.“
Frantically, I checked the flight information on the app again, and I was horrified to learn that my flight was departing from San Jose, NOT from San Francisco! After a few moments of agitation and anxiety, I collected myself, and then I quickly pleaded with the driver to head to the San Jose Airport. This kind driver swiftly updated the destination on his navigation and stepped on the gas. I felt like I was already flying as we sped down Highway 101 toward San Jose.
As soon as the driver dropped me off at Terminal A at the San Jose Airport, I got out of the car, sprinted at full speed, and made a mesmerizing slide into the check-in counter, just like an MLB player. SAFE!!! Gosh, it was so, so close! whoo …!
Surprising to others but not to me, this was not the first time that I had done something like that. Off the top of my head, I can easily recall one of my airport experiences which happened several years ago when I lived in Korea. I planned to attend a conference in Jeju, the largest island of Korea.
Thinking of Jeju, I purchased a flight ticket and took the flight on my travel day. When I landed, I grabbed a taxi and shouted to the driver, “Jeju Convention Center, please!”
Shocked and incredulous, the taxi driver opened his eyes wide and said, “Are you kidding? You want me to fly to Jeju Island?” I did not understand what he meant for a few seconds, and then I realized that I was not in Jeju, but I just landed in Busan, the second largest city in Korea. The ticket I bought and the flight I took was all for Busan. What was I thinking?
Well, I have made many mistakes at airports in my life.
Recalling them is like unpacking a Russian doll — one after another, after another, after another. Some examples:
- I checked in at an airport one day earlier than the date when I was supposed to leave;
- I missed a 9 am flight when I thought my flight was for 9 pm;
- I came home leaving my checked luggage on the baggage carousel;
- I missed a connecting flight because I was hypnotized by a huge sale in a duty free store;
- And so on and on
O.K., I feel embarrassed about the behaviors and mistakes that I have made. In addition to this embarrassment, it has wasted a lot of time and money — Uber fares, rescheduling fees, baggage delivery fees, and shameful pleading to drivers.
I continuously try to remind myself not to make the same mistakes. I make checklists, make calendar entries, set reminders, ask my not-so-reliable-as-well family members to nudge me, and many more. However, it happens again when I am about to forget the latest mistake I made.
On the other hand, however, although it might sound preposterous to some of you, I like this part of me. If I am unmistakably perfect and do not make any mistakes, how boring and mundane my life would be. No memories and no stories to tell.
What would you suggest I do in order to minimize these kinds of mistakes, yet not give up some fun in my life?