I didn’t notice until it was too late.
It happened last year. My son and I had flown to Alabama to visit family (after my father had a mild heart attack), and he and I needed a ride to the Birmingham airport. From Birmingham, we would fly to Atlanta, and change planes to head back to Milwaukee.
A friend of a friend very graciously offered us a ride to the airport. They made all the arrangements, and we were simply told to be ready on time to go, which was great. I was very thankful– no worries about a ride to the airport!
The friends arrived on time, and we all piled in the car and headed on our way. We had been enjoying a very nice conversation, my son and I in the back seat, the couple in the front seat.
About an hour into the ride, I notice a sign that says we are nearing the Georgia border.
I gasp. Georgia? Georgia?!!
But– Birmingham is in Alabama! In the opposite direction!
Up until that moment, I had been oblivious to my surroundings, to the drive, to road signs-hadn’t even given it a second thought. “I have a ride,” I thought. Nothing else occurred to me, except that I had a ride to get to the airport.
At the Georgia border, I take a deep breath and ask, “Are we really in Georgia?”
My friends in the front seat nod cheerfully. ”Yes, we’re almost there!”
“But– but– my flight is out of Birmingham!” I say, shocked.
They are surprised, thinking that Atlanta has always been my destination.
“No, we heard your flight was out of Atlanta.”
“No, I’m flying out of Birmingham. I’m changing planes in Atlanta, not flying OUT of Atlanta!”
We stop at the Georgia Welcome Center rest stop for a break. I check the clock, look at the mileage, and think.
I had made an assumption, and so had they. They thought I was going to Atlanta, and I thought we were heading to Birmingham.
A miscommunication must have occurred between the two parties who spoke, and I never did figure out how, but it doesn’t matter. The comical thing about this is that I didn’t think to confirm the destination with my driving companions, and they had not thought to ask me. We all simply “assumed” we were all on the same page, heading to the same place. In one car.
(Comical, really! Very, very comical and embarrassing… It IS funny… ahem.)
At this point, I realize it is too late to turn around and go back to Birmingham– we will surely miss the flight if we try to do that. So I decide that we have no choice but to continue on the journey to Atlanta, I’m supposed to change planes there anyway, so I figure this might be my best bet– get on the plane I’m supposed to catch out of Atlanta. To me, this makes perfect sense.
I immediately call the airlines to let them know we are missing our flight out of Birmingham, but that we will be able to make the second leg of the journey from Atlanta.
Well, it’s not so simple from their end, and this does not make sense to them. The airlines say I’m making a complete flight change– almost like a new booking! It was only after a very long phone call, and explanations, discussions, etc., I work things out with the airline, but not so easily, and with a lovely fee for the “change”. A “change”, however, is still better than two new tickets. A few tears roll down my cheeks. The tickets were already originally costly, since we had to buy them on the spur of the moment because of the medical emergency. But there was nothing more I could do.
The drivers are most apologetic, and so am I… it was all an honest mistake. No one blames the other.
But I learned. You need to ask the driver where you are going. Don’t assume.
Now, of course, this entire episode makes for a very funny story. And– a good metaphor, for a person’s life, don’t you think?
To ask– who’s driving? Who’s driving my car?
Me? Others? Others’ expectations? My fears? Traditions?
If anyone, or anything, besides God is steering that vehicle, it’s time to pull over and stop, and let Him take over the wheel. Or else, you’ll find yourself out of gas very quickly. Or in a place you never intended to be.
When we arrive safe and sound back in Milwaukee, I phone my parents. My father still has his wits about him and his sense of humor, even as he recovers from the stent procedure, and can’t resist a little joke:
“So, where are you? New York? Los Angeles?” he asks.
Ha, ha, ha.
They heard about the debacle even before I had a chance to tell them, and enjoyed a nice little joke.
Glad I could oblige.