It was a Thursday night — technically early Friday morning. My eldest daughter and I had just left a wedding in New York, and my flight home to Minneapolis was at 6 a.m., which would get me home with enough time to prep for Shabbat and celebrate my younger daughter’s birthday. I would need to be at the airport around 4 a.m. I wasn’t going to spend money on a hotel for a few hours of sleep. Crashing in a relative’s guest room didn’t seem like a good idea either because I might miss my flight.
The most logical choice was to stay in the rental car at the airport overnight.
I pulled up to the rental car area, my daughter asleep in the backseat, and shooed away the Hertz employee. It was 2:30 a.m. I had an hour and a half to kill in this dark parking garage, and I knew exactly what to do: binge-watch Fauda! Fauda means chaos in Arabic and is a show about an anti-terrorist unit in the IDF.
I miss Israel so much. I lived in Israel for eight years during my early adulthood and I thought I would live there forever. I’m obsessed with serving Israeli food, and I love speaking Hebrew with anyone who will put up with my numerous mistakes. When Sally Abrams wrote in the Times of Israel about bringing Israel into our lives through Israeli TV, I dove into her suggestions with gusto. Cut to me in the rental car parking lot, alone with Netflix for the first time. Riveted, I didn’t look up from my screen for two hours. When I did look up, it was 4:30.
“It’s time to go!” I yelled, startling my daughter awake. I yanked out the phone charger, handed in my keys, and headed to the air tram, which wasn’t running. As we waited, an employee explained that even when it came we’d need to transfer to reach our terminal. When we finally got on a tram, there was another delay. This was when it dawned on me that we might not make our flight.
Of course, the line for security was the biggest balagan I have seen outside of Israel. I unleashed my inner Israeli and East Coaster and started asking people if we could nudge in front of them in line. They wouldn’t let us. I called the airline in hopes that maybe the flight was delayed. it wasn’t. I started praying my heart out. Please G-d, help us make our flight. Please G-d if we don’t make our flight, help us get back for Shabbat and my daughter’s birthday and help me have time to do all the tasks for the birthday dinner I have left before Shabbat comes in on this short winter Friday.
My daughter made it through security before me, grabbed my shoes, and started to run. She had on plaid pajamas under a skirt; I was wearing the full-length lace gown I had worn to the wedding. (Who had time to change when there was Fauda to watch?) I ran barefoot behind my daughter until we arrived at our gate sweaty and panting only to find out that, sure enough, they had closed the door and rebooked us for the 8:15 a.m. flight.
I felt so foolish. How could I have missed my flight when I’d been near the airport since 2:30? I had a good plan, but I lost focus. One less episode of Fauda and I would have made it home according to my original plan with lots of time to cook.
Telling myself “just a little more Fauda” led to missing my flight. Fauda is an awesome show. Telling your husband you missed your flight watching Fauda is less than awesome.
As I processed the debacle, it struck me that missing the flight was a metaphor needing my attention. The opportunities in life we miss while distracted are just like that flight, departing without us while we waste a significant amount of time barely aware that we’re doing it.
I pray this experience will remind me of my “important flights” and likewise help me identify my “Netflix-in-car moments” when I too easily make the wrong choice. I hope I can internalize this experience to be a learning one, on travel days and on this trip called life. I want to keep my eye on the prize of what’s important, starting with stashing my devices away more often. Once I’ve arrived at the proverbial terminal on time, I’ll wait my turn nicely in the security line. I’ll get my shoes on and walk to the gate. I’ll find a seat near an outlet, kick back, relax, and watch Fauda season 3. With G-d’s help, I won’t get so absorbed in the fictitious characters that I forget to board the plane as my name is announced.
Life is too short to miss the important flights.