A Simple Plan
The plan was simple. I would meet my friend Jeff for coffee at Barnes & Noble on Wednesday evening after I returned from Summerville, SC. I had an 11 o’clock flight out of Charleston to Charlotte and a 1 o’clock flight, 860, from Charlotte to Newark. Mrs. Mensch would pick me up at 3:30 and there would be enough time to return home, grab dinner and meet Jeff at 7:30.
The Plan Changes
The plane from Charleston was one of those small regional jets and there were no empty seats. As promised, we pulled way from the gate on time, rolled out to the tarmac for take off and then the pilot turned around and went back to the gate.
A panel light indicated a problem with the flaps and a mechanic had to be called. The problem was fixed but to test the fix all passengers had to be off the plane, even the woman with crutches. Back in the terminal I sent a text to Jeff postponing our meeting. No way was I going to make flight 860.
When we landed at 1:20, I found a voice mail on my cell phone. USAIR called to tell me that flight 860 had been delayed and would leave at 2:15. I dragged my suitcase from terminal E to terminal B. The gate agent confirmed my seat and I boarded. I had the famous window seat next to an eight year old with his crying younger brother was behind me.
The Plan Changes
The plan continued to fall apart when flight 860 landed a little after 4 and Mrs. Mensch could not meet me due to a prior engagement. No problem, I could take the air-train to the airport train station and take New Jersey Transit back to Middletown.
Up the escalator at Terminal A to the air-train. Air-train pass Terminals B, C and Parking and the last stop, the train station. Up the escalator to ticketing and Dunkin’ Donuts. The machine spits out my ticket and it was down the escalator for track 5. The schedule showed a 4:42 Coast Line train and it was now 4:35. When the system works, it works. The train arrived on time but the monitor showed the last stop as Matawan, two stops north of Middletown and a $30 cab ride to my house. The next scheduled train for Middletown was after six.
The schedule showed a 5:17 New Jersey Coast Line train to Middletown from Newark’s Penn Station, which is only one stop north of the airport station. So, it was back up the escalator, cross over, escalator down to track 1 for the next train to Newark’s Penn Station.
Five minutes later, I’m in Newark’s Penn Station, down the stairs and back up the other side for track 2 waiting for the 5:17 with minutes to spare. The system is working again.
Here comes Jeff on his commute home from New York City. The 5:17 is his usual train. We had our friendly chat after all and Jeff drove me home. Apparently, it was meant to be.