My buddy Cliff is a phenomenal guitar player. He’s been a guitarist and studio musician for more than 30 years and he’s played for some extremely talented and famous bands, singers, etc. He’s so close to retirement that he can feel it. So close, in fact, that he’s already bought a house on the lake and a couple of boats and if he’s not sleeping or playing guitar, he’s fishing.
I’m happy for him, but I’m starting to notice an unhealthy trend! Cliff has been on time or early to every single gig he’s ever played. That’s what he’s paid for, right? Well, recently he’s been seen on the lake with a line in the water at 6:30 pm, scarcely a 15-minute drive by car to a gig he’s booked for 7 pm. More than once I’ve driven my own boat past his and hollered out, "Cliffy, don’t you play tonight?" "Yeah, I’ll make it, trust me!" He says. So far, he’s made it. Every time. But I wonder.
Sometimes you just think you know better. I used to believe that the plea from our government, the airlines, etc., for us to arrive two hours early was mostly a plea to the ignorant masses who don’t go through airport procedures regularly. After all, I am to airports as Cliff is to the lake. I know what I’m doing!
So if I have a flight at 1 pm (for example), I will leave my house at 12:20. That gives me the 15 minutes I need to get to the airport, park, check my bag at the top-secret location in the basement of the MSP airport, sneak through the elite security line, and still get to the gate to board with 15 minutes to spare.
Until last week.
Last week I thought I’d have lunch at the airport, so I left 45 minutes earlier than I usually do, and it’s a darned good thing that I did. The airport parking lot was full when I got there (that never happens) and I had to park at a different terminal. The Humphrey terminal has a 3/4-mile walk to a light-rail train station where you have to wait up to 15 minutes to catch a train to the larger Lindbergh terminal. It was also nearly full and I had to park on the roof in the farthest space available.
I made it to Lindbergh approximately 40 minutes later (so much for lunch). Then I discovered that A) my gate was A15 (the furthest gate from the main terminal) and B) the terminal tram that takes you the mile walk down to concourse A was not running. To make a long story short, I walked onto that airplane barely 5 minutes before they closed the door and I left my house about two hours early!
One of these days, Cliff’s anchor is going to get stuck. Or (more appropriately), he’ll have a state record walleye on his line and his watch will start beeping that he needs to get his butt off the lake and into his Audi TT and put the throttle on the floor if he’s going to make his gig!
For me, I have a healthier respect for the pitfalls that may hinder me on my way to a flight. Leaving early definitely has its benefits! After all, nobody plans to park as far away as possible when they’re bound for the gate furthest away from the terminal, with nothing to get them there but the soles of your shoes.