First of all, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. It has been crazy busy at work and at home. In fact, I’m clacking away on my laptop while I wait for my delayed flight home at Nnamdi Azikiwe airport and my brain is tired. My colleague will say, “I am having a brain-ache.” That sounds just about right. My body hurts like I have been flogged, thanks to all the heavy lifting I’ve been doing for the past three days back to back. (If it has to be done right, do it yourself applies here). But I’m truly grateful and unlike my usual tales of Airport woes, this is a story of Grace. God’s grace. And airline/airport competence and helpfulness!
I don’t know if you know there has been aviation fuel scarcity so a lot of flights have been cancelled or moved to another day and it has been absolutely manic at the airports. I finished an event in Lagos and had to hop on over to Abuja for another the next day (I’m doing all this in heels ya’ know 😉 ) and I still have to give D his reading lessons too! (more on that later). So the last thing I needed to worry about was if my flight would be delayed or cancelled because I was supposed to bring some very important items for the event.
I packed an over-night bag just in case my return flight got cancelled; I laid the rest of my worries at His feet, tucked myself into bed and slept soundly.
I woke up early and my airport shuttle was on time but I took my sweet time and left home by 5:30. You know as summer vacation people are still in the abroad, the road is free. I figured I’d get there in time to just flow through to boarding. Still, I felt as if we didn’t have time for a lengthy prayer, in fact it was one of those mornings when we would both close our eyes and wait for the other to start praying.
No, you pray.
But I’m the one travelling, pray for me.
We finally said the Grace. Somehow I knew it would be enough. The Spirit groans… I snoozed in the back of the car coming in and out of consciousness until we arrived at the airport and the driver asked me what time my flight was.
“7:20”, I said confidently only for me to pull out my boarding pass which Jesus had lovingly advised me to print before leaving the office the evening before and I saw 7:00pm. I checked the time – 6:40. She-eet! I sprinted to the counter. This was all on me. I should have left at 5:00 at least. But I had to check-in my heavy luggage containing materials for the event. It would be too heavy to take on board with me and they would definitely turn me back.
I headed for the counter like I knew what I was doing. There was a man telling a lady that there was nothing he could do and that the flight was closed. I asked,
“Which flight is that?” in alarm.
“7:00 am to Port Harcourt,” she replied.
“Oh, I’m 7:00am to Abuja,” as if my case was better. The man looked at me and said quite plainly, “That one too is closed.”
“But I have my boarding pass. I checked in online.”
“Let me see, where is ya ID card? Oya, quick run to security, don’t join the queue o! Tell them you are for Abuja.”
Thank you Jesus!
“Um, wait, my luggage, I have to check it in.”
“There is no time, just go.”
Of course I had to open my bag to be checked by security, it was too dense for the scanner. Before I unzipped the bag for the security woman to see, she was already asking, “How far?” I ignored her and pointed to the incriminating package of notepads in my bag. “This is why ma, I’m taking this with me to Abuja now please.”
“Eh? Oya go, go, go.”
Amazing. Getting to the boarding gate and handing over my pass, the NAHCO lady asked for my ID and while I rummaged in my now scattered handbag for it, she just walked away to whisper to someone at the airline desk.
“Do you still need to see-?”
“Go, the plane will soon go. Safe flight.”
Ah! Is this not grace? On a good day I would have heard an earful from everyone at every point about why I shouldn’t be late. The lady had actually whispered to her colleagues to help me get to my plane because the bus transfer for my flight had already moved! I hopped in with Port Harcourt bound passengers, the driver cruised at great speed to get me to the plane and he honked and hollered for them not to disengage the steps. It was that close!
I climbed on board, ably assisted by another NAHCO guy who grabbed my bag and followed me up the steps with a smile of encouragement. People don’t normally see me as someone who could use a hand. The burden of being a ‘strong woman’.
At my carefully chosen seat, there was a small but middle-aged Northern woman in it. She was already looking at me apologetically and asking if it was my seat. Before I could muster my thoughts because I was still out of breath from my sprint across the tarmac, I heard myself say, “It’s alright, you can sit. You obviously have a preference for it.” As I settled in and buckled my belt, I knew it wasn’t because of the sweetness of her smile, her age or her earnest eyes. It was grace that made me let her have my seat. On any given day I would politely wait for the person to vacate it but today, after all I had gone through to get here and nearly missing me flight, I’d be remiss to ignore the call to pay forward the same kindness I’d been shown.
The flight was good. The pilot was a pro, effortless takeoff and landing, (Arik, today o, you try abeg). Even with the bad weather, we felt no bump in the sky. Although at one point everything became silent and I wondered, “Is this what it sounds like when plane engines die?” But I quickly perished the thought. This was a day made of grace. It could only end in praise.
And it did.
You try abeg – Pidgin English colloquialism for well done; Abeg being ‘please’.
Oya – Yoruba for ‘hurry’