Thursday morning, I got up at about 5:30 to shower, dress, and head to the airport. My mother and I had decided this was early enough; she was going to drive me there.
This, however, was almost not early enough.
The plane was to take to the skies at 7:30; These days, they tell you to arrive two hours early so that you can get through the screening process with time to spare, instead of the old one-hour recommendation.
What they don't tell you is that THERE'S A ONE HOUR CUT-OFF PERIOD. It didn't help that I did not write down the address of the hotel I was going to stay at (so I had to pay a terminal 0.50$ to check the Internet since I wasn't bringing my smartphone with me); It added more delays to me getting check-in system to print my boarding passes... And wouldn't you know it, the machine's printer broke down halfway through. I was stuck with one boarding pass (I had a connecting flight) on a mangled paper and one hour to departure.
I tried another one, but I got a different series of questions that didn't bode well, and sure enough, as far as it was concerned I had already been served.
In a near panic, walked up to the check-in counter instead. Surely it would be easier for a human to sort this out. The woman there politely informed me that it may be too late as had just barey hit the lock-out time, but had the grace to call in and ask if there was enough time to send one more passenger through. Thankfully, the answer was some form of affirmation as she began to help me through the process (and giving both boarding passes) while explaining to me that I had only one try at this; If I didn't pass customs, I'd have to come back out and rebook.
Oh. Nice to know.
Thanking her as profusely as I could while rushing over to customs, mentaly prepared mysef for it. All it was was a screening process, simple questions they had to ask everyone... No big deal, right? Being the last one through (as far as I could tell), everything was quiet. I was led through the process of having my check-in scanned, my hands .. scanned?.. and my carry-on scanned.
Then came the usual "Why are you coming to the US?" questions ("'cause?"), and already I was through and quickly walking off to the gate, trying to follow the signs and somehow getting confused at some point, missing a minute or two of time.
But I arrived in time, everything was well. I took the few minutes that I had to poke around at the dumbphone I was "borrowing" (WIND lets you return a phone within 14 days, so long as less than 30 minutes of airtime (talk time) have been used &emdash; this requirement is set by the manufacturer and makes little sense to me, since text and 'net usage aren't counted towards this limit) and send some text mesages. I also read a bit of the book I brought along, Black And Blue.
The rest of the trip in went without issue, and the nice woman I sat beside on the second flight moved over so we could have more space once we'd found out that the person that was going to sit next to her wasn't going to show up. Too bad I wasn't more in the mood to converse, and the added space didn't help towards that. Or her headphones. Oh well.
Little did I know the flights back weren't going to be quite as simple.