Virgin Islands: The Trip to St. Thomas and an Epiphany

January 12, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

My trip to the Virgin Islands was a bit eventful. It started the Saturday after Christmas, well before dawn. I had spent the night in Silver Spring, Maryland with relatives who were also going on the trip– Uncle Timothy, Aunt Maria, Cousin Sam and Cousin Jack!

Early in the morning, we woke up to head to Dulles airport. Being the most seasoned traveler of the bunch, I felt I should share my knowledge with my companions. I announced to everyone, “You do know United charges $15 per bag, right?”

They looked at me dumbfounded and I knew right away they were thankful to have me around.

“Even carry-ons?!?” Sam asked.

“Oh…uh… no… not carry-ons,” I said.

“Oh. We don’t check bags.”

It was then I noticed that all four of my travel companions were armed with identical, dinky, little suitcases. And there was I– with a giant duffel bag stuffed to the point of stressing the zipper. It housed clothes, rollerblades, a camelbak, hiking boots and a GPS.

For a while now, Larry has been trying to persuade me to start doing carry-on with my suitcase on business trips. I have resisted, remembering what it is like to manage luggage in an airport bathroom stall. That, and I am not inspired to re-architect my toiletries to comply with the 3-1-1 rule. Plus, it’s Larry. He always worries about bags getting lost.

Well now, Larry has some traction for his cause. Maria, Timothy, Jack, Sam and I all arrived at the airport at the exact same time. I had to check my bag. They didn’t.

They had a relaxing stroll through the airport. They breezed through a short security line and got to the gate in time to get lunch.

Me, I almost missed the flight!

I got caught in a long check-in line, then I got caught in an even longer security line. Then my little shuttle to the next terminal had to wait for a plane to park. As the time ticked to under ten minutes before the departure time, I was convinced I was going to miss the flight. I was already running numbers in my head trying to figure out how much I could afford to rebook my ticket.

My cousin Sam kept text messaging me from the plane, assuring me the airline knew I was checked in and they would surely wait. But being the seasoned, extremely knowledgeable traveler I am, I had plenty of memories of panting passengers being turned away by the most unsympathetic of gate agents to race through my head.

“Sorry sir, the aircraft door is closed.”

“Sorry sir, the aircraft door is closed.”

“Sorry sir, the aircraft door is closed.”

Even though I was convinced it was hopeless, when my shuttle stopped, I ran.

I found the gate to be void of passengers and the door to the jetway was already closed. In front of the desk were two idle agents. This did not look promising.

Suddenly one of them looked up and saw me running.

“St. Thomas?” she asked.

She rushed to open the door and she got me on board. My cousin Sam was right. I made it.

There are experiences in life that unearth doubts and shake up your entire belief system. Conclusions that were once so concrete are now in question. Everything goes into limbo.

As sweat rolled down my face, I buckled my seatbelt and I worked to catch my breath, I had one of those moments. Not matter how hard I tried, I could not purge a nagging question from my head.

“Could Larry actually be right about something?!?!”


Entry filed under: Larry Bowman, Samantha Sawyer, Travel, Virgin Islands.

Virgin Islands: Trip Overview Virgin Islands: St. Thomas

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