But no, I was stuck in the back of the slowest-moving line (a predestined “given,” I suspect). My givens were all floating around in muck at the bottom of the barrel. Some of them, I’ve just come to accept without much thought these days: if there's a stall in a crowded women's room that won't lock, that's where I'll end up, necessitating all kinds of acrobatics with arms and legs to at least suggest a sense of decency to those on the outside, because there certainly isn't an ounce of it on the inside. Blizzards will only strike on days in which I’m supposed to be somewhere far away. I will never get sick at a convenient time when I’m dying for an excuse to lie abed reading Agatha Christie, eating crackers, and drinking tea for a few days, but rather when I’m traveling, have company, or have tickets to some once-in-a-lifetime event.
However, the given that never fails to frustrate me time and again is: my plane will always be departing from gate Z99. No matter what airline I’m flying. No matter what city I’m in nor where I’m going, I will always have miles to walk to get to my gate, and the less time I have to catch my plane, the farther away the gates will start to get from each other. I might think I’m almost there when I’ve reached gate Y79, but silly me, I’ll soon discover there’s this whole other wing of the airport, once you get past the Y gates, where the Z gates reside. Or, maybe I’ll get a little excited, because I get my boarding pass and discover my plane is leaving from Gate C3, but after following the poorly-marked cement-tiled trail that leads to the C gates, I’ll find I’m being herded onto a train that drops me off at a building in another city (you think I’m joking, but have you ever been to the Atlanta airport? I’m convinced half the planes that fly out of it are really leaving from Savannah), and I still have another mile to walk once I'm in building C to get the the actual gate. Every once in a while, I’ll get a boarding pass that announces I’m leaving from gate A10 (never “1,” but maybe “10”). This will be the airport designed by sadists who had a great laugh over the fact that they were going to put the gates in reverse order, so A99 is actually the first gate one reaches after making it through
I’m sure I wouldn’t be quite so frustrated by this given of mine if I were one of those women who checks huge bags of luggage and carries on nothing but a tiny little purse and a Reader’s Digest magazine. But, I’m not. I’m one of those women who even if she’s checked luggage, still has a computer bag whose zipper is going to break any minute from the overload of laptop, plugs, books, toiletries, and work files. It weighs about as much as a hefty toddler. (Another given is that I will forget when I’m packing such a bag that I’m going to have to carry it for ten miles.) If I’m bringing my wheelie carry-on with me, it will not roll smoothly along like everyone else’s wheelie carry-on (probably because theirs has nothing heavier in it than a pair of slippers, a toothbrush, and a lightweight pair of pajamas), but will teeter on its wheels, get cranky if it spots something in the distance it might at some point have to maneuver around, and topple over at the mere suggestion of turning a corner. Place a computer bag on top of it, and it will refuse to move.
I’ve decided I’m turning over a new leaf, though. I am no longer going to let this given frustrate me. I’m going to laugh at it and tell it what a favor it’s doing me, with all the aerobic and strength-training exercise I’m getting. I’m going to make it wish it could go back to the bottom of that barrel.
Now, I just need someone to come along and remind me of this tomorrow when I’m gasping for breath, racing to find gate Z99, as my computer bag strap slips off my shoulder, yet again, causing the bag to go smashing into little old ladies, sending them to the ground to break their hips. Anyone want to volunteer for the job?