How to: Never Smoke Another Cigarette

I had a really tight connection getting home from Texas Friday night– a 35 minute layover in the Detroit airport and the last flight of the night to DCA.  I tried to get on an earlier flight that morning, but Delta was booked solid.  Which I understand.  I wanted to get out of Texas too.

I was on a tiny plane out of San Antonio.  So small in fact that all of us with a decent sized carry on had to dump our bags on the jet bridge for the flight.  They were not checked to our final destination.  We had to pick them back up when we arrived in Detroit.

Timeliness was key to my success.  We had to burn some jet fuel for about 15 minutes and then fifth in line for takeoff– so we got a little bit of a late start, but were pinky-promised by the pilots that we’d make up time in the air.  We were even going to get in early!  I thought fondly of all the snacks I was going to buy before I leisurely boarded my flight to DC.

A couple hundred miles out of Air Traffic Control slowed us down.  We were set to land 5 minutes after our scheduled arrival time.  I banged my head against the window a couple of times.  Our wheels touched down in the great state of Michigan at 9:02PM.  My next flight left at 9:30PM.  We landed at gate 61.  My flight to DCA left out of gate 10.  So much for my snacks.

I waited on the jet bridge for 5 whole minutes for my carry on, watching as many suitcases that were not mine slowly made their way out of the plane and up the moving ramp.  I had my face pressed against the window waiting to see the tell-tales sign of my silver ribbon.  I put my hair in a pony tail, secured my large purse across my body, got into position with one hand ready to grab my carry on and the other to shove bitches out of my way like a relay runner on the final leg.

And when my hand firmly grasped the handle of my bag, I took off up the jet bridge at a full-blown sprint.  There was no way in hell I was getting stuck in Detroit.  No way in hell.  Not when I’d spent an entire 5 days in San Antonio.  And it was the weekend.  And I had no more clean undergarments.  Or enough self-control to not have a complete and total meltdown in the airport should I miss my flight.

I want to tell you I ran like the wind but more so, I ran like a lunatic trying to make her flight.  An absolutely crazy person with two heavy bags, wildly out of shape and who hates running with all her heart.  A crazy person that had spent an long afternoon in San Antonio drinking at an empty bar to kill time.  And smoking cigarettes because she was bored.  And in Texas.

By gate 42 it was more of  a half sprint, walk quickly, try not to die.  It was amazing to me how many people were actually in the Detroit airport at 9PM on a Friday night and how many of those people did not notice me barreling towards them at top speed.  I’m not ashamed to say I might have ran into a couple of them.

At gate 30 I saw a clock (9:15PM) and a sign (Federal law requires all passengers to be on board 20 minutes before departure) and couldn’t decide between running faster or giving up.  At this point I was sweating.  My hair was a mess.  It wasn’t great a great look.  But I was so close!  By the time I made my gate and saw the door still open, I wanted to actually jump for joy.  If I could’ve gathered the strength to do so.

I handed my boarding pass to the gate agent and said between deep, heavy, gasping breaths said — I (wheeze)  made (wheeze) it!  If he looked in any way friendly or impressed that I’d just ran 51 gates, I would have tried to high five him.  I couldn’t figure out if I was going to pass out or throw up for the first half hour of my flight and my lungs actually hurt for a full 24 hours.  Which is not great.  But so worth it.

So my idea is this– if you’re trying to quite smoking, book a 35 minute layover in an airport in a city you’d never ever want to spend the night in.  Have a couple drinks before your flight, smoke a cigarette en route from the bar to the hotel to pick up your suitcase, fear with every bone in your body missing your connecting flight and then run at a full speed for 51 gates.  You may never want to smoke again.

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