i had quite the adventure getting here.  i was all ready to head out on thursday the 7th to prague via munich.  i got a ride to the airport, waited in wicked long lines, checked a bag, made it through security and called my friend to tell her i’d be there the next morning.  the line for the gate slowly moved and when i was just a few people away, i decided to pull out my boarding pass and passport.  but there was no passport.  i got flushed, i told talitha to pray, i ran out of the line to the guys at the counter.  no compassion, they said they’d pull my bag.  they said if i could find my passport, they would let me board but the gates would close in 4 minutes.  i started running.  running through “do not enter” signs, running on the moving walkways, jogging down the escalators.  i got back to the tram.  finally, a little compassion, the operators said they’d search all the trains.  they did, a few minutes later there was no passport.  i figured i’d missed the flight.  a wave of insight came over me and i remembered showing my boarding pass to a lady at an information desk to ask about my gate.  i bet i’d dropped it there.

i walked back to her desk, didn’t see her, but saw a blue passport sitting on top of her books.  i looked.  there was my college short black haired visage.  crazy.  i wrote her a note, snatched it up, called my mom and talitha to tell them the good news: i have my passport.

i thought, maybe my fight hasn’t left yet, maybe there was a delay.  so i jogged down the escalator, rode the tram, ran on the moving walkway, powered up the escalator and saw the departure board: my flight was flashing a red “boarding”–i kept running.  always eager to interpret my story, i figured this is an unexpected provision and a lesson to teach me to look after my things and not be on the cell phone.  lesson learned and now onto prague!  i arrived at the gate.  empty.  i saw some agents milling around at another counter.  breathless, i asked them to check on the flight.  the gate is closed.  go to United customer service.  C20.

so i went to C20.  stood in line 20 mins only to find out that since orbitz was who i got my ticket through, orbitz was the one to help.  i decided to call my friend to come and get me.  she was coming back to the airport anyway, so no biggie.  i got on the phone with orbitz.  the orbitz girl, myrna was really nice.  i was on hold with her while she was on hold with the other airline (Continental) who really owned my bicket.  in between elevator jazz, she explained that missing the flight was my fault and that i’d need to pay a $250 international change fee plus a 200 euro change fee plus the difference between the tickets.  i let this sink in.  i swallowed hard and asked what the difference in tickets would be.  she said over $1000, the toggled back to continental.  she explained that even if i wanted to pay this much, there was a problem with the computer and she couldn’t book the european part of the trip.  she advised me to talk to someone at continental: “the ticket counter has ultimate control–they can waive fees, change prices, do anything”  i met my friend and she told me i needed to cry and beg for mercy.  i called t and she said the same.  said she’d kill me if i didn’t come to prague.  said her sister was praying for me–praying that I would see God’s provision in a dramatic way.  i swallowed.  no one at the continental ticket counter–closed at 5pm.  for assistance, visit the baggage claim desk.

so i went back downstairs, tried to conjure up tears, failed and told my story to a stern-looking woman who told me “don’t lose your passport!”  i know, i said–then i started legitimately crying.  she was really my only hope for getting a flight and she was unconcerned.  she got a little irritated and then let me into the family drama: continental and united merged that week and she didn’t like how united treated its people.  she called a supervisor at united and reprimanded her for passing off a customer to another airline: “we don’t send our customers to you to deal with–why didn’t you help her?  this is your responsiblity and now she’s down here, crying–why don’t you step up and take care of your people?”  she hung up in a huff and said, well, you’re going to have to pay for this.  a new ticket tomorrow to prague is 2500–that’s what happens when you miss your flight.  i didin’t say anything.  then she said, “there’s a flight for $1717 that i could get you on.”  i said, i’m going to visit my best friend and i’m bringing her things and i’ve saved for this trip for months.  i paid $1000 for my ticket.  she didn’t look up and said “maybe i can subtract the price of your original ticket, 998 from this price and you will pay that.  i perked up.  okay, $700 to visit Talitha still.  maybe that was okay.  i’d just put off my new laptop for a few more months.  that’s an expensive passport drop, but it’s better this than nothing.  i didn’t tell her this, i just stood there.

she called a friend at a ticket counter somewhere, explained the situation and then typed and typed and typed, just clicking away.  she hung up the phone after saying, “God bless you, Tom” and then she smiled triumphantly.  she asked for my baggage claim and said i’d need to collect my bag since united can’t be trusted.  i nodded.  then she printed a small piece of paper out of an old spool printer.

she said, “today’s your lucky day.  i have you on a flight tomorrow through frankfurt and i’m not going to charge you anything.  don’t be late!”
me: “anything?”
her: “no, nothing”
me: “wow.  thank you!”  (at this point i teared up again)
her: “no problem”

then she patted me on the back and smiled and told me again to get my bag and not be late.

i slowly walked out, got my bag and asked my friend to pick me up.  then i went home, watched “up in the air,” ate dinner and went to bed.

God provided for me in a dramatic way.  he’s like that–dramatic, concerned for his glory.  it used to really bother me.  why did the egyptians have to get so close before the red sea closed over them?  but yesterday, and today still, i’m not bothered by his glory or his sovereignty or his goodness.  he did not have to give me a free ticket to prague.  he did not have to show me mercy.  he did not have to allow me to find my passport.  though i’m not entitled, i was extended grace and i’m so grateful.  praise God with me.  He’s really good.

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