“I’d rather be lucky than good” is a saying that holds special weight for my family when it comes to travel.
My parents, siblings and I are people who prepare for travel. As lifelong subscribers to the “early is on time and on time is late” school of thought, we show up to airports and train stations way ahead of scheduled departure times. We are morning people who rarely need to set an alarm, much less worry about sleeping through it. And you won’t see us sprinting through a terminal unless something entirely out of our hands has gone seriously awry. In short, where travel is concerned, we are good.
But we are not lucky. I have been delayed and/or stranded more times than I can count, often on allegedly routine trips to Atlanta. The flights my brother takes struggle to get going, converting someone who was once a minor league pitcher to a major league tarmac-sitter. My sister Suzi lives in Richmond, which means not only connections but abundant opportunities to miss them. My father’s luggage got lost in Cairo. (In the suitcase’s defense, it’s pretty easy to get lost in Cairo.) My sister Lynne, who’s wrestled with motion sickness her whole life, inevitably winds up on flights that ride the skies like a hapless toddler in a moon bounce. If you find yourself sitting next to grown woman who uses the barf bag in flight, yes, it’s my sister. Mom’s luck might be neutral but for the fact that she usually travels with one of us.
The good-to-lucky ratio reverses when it comes to my brother-in-law Paul. He’s a laid-back, genial type who brings a“things will work out” attitude to just about everything in life, including travel. Though a sunny person overall, Paul and mornings do not get along, so he avoids travel before noon. Sometimes it can’t be helped, as was the case when he, Lynne and the Roommates traveled to the Florida Keys for a wedding. Their flight was scheduled to leave at 7 a.m. Somehow the joint forces of my sister’s anal retentiveness and palpitation-inducing amounts of caffeine combined to get my brother-in-law out of the house and leading their family of four into a security line at the airport by 5:15 a.m. Those forces were not enough, however, to get Paul’s wallet into the act. As he reached the counter he realized he had no wallet and, thus, no form of ID. This is the kind of oversight that will earn a person a very low rating on the Yank scale of traveler goodness.
As Paul was asking, “Will I still be able to get on the plane?” my sister was moving ahead with the kids, because the “no child left behind” rule comes with a “but to hell with the spouse” corollary.
Somehow Paul made it through security, including a search that would probably have left him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder had he actually been awake. He reunited with his family at the gate, whereas a stranded and ID-free Yank would have gotten to the gate just as the door to the jet way had closed. Moments later, Paul’s name was announced over the intercom, followed by a request that he check in if he happened to be in the area. This struck my sister as odd, since Paul had not only checked in but done so in style. When my brother-in-law got to the desk, he learned someone found his wallet in the parking lot and turned in. The even better news? The finder happened to be on my sister and her family’s flight, so the wallet had been turned in to the very gate from which they were departing.
I think you’ll agree that Paul really learned his lesson, and I know I learned mine: it actually is better to be lucky than good. So as I travel on this Friday the 13th with my parents to Frankfort for the Kentucky Book Fair, here’s to being lucky.