Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Ten Little Miracles

There are a lot of phone calls you don't want to receive when you're 4,200 miles from home. One of those is that your pregnant wife's water broke. However, that's exactly the phone call I received on January 23rd after I arrived in Lisbon, Portugal. You may be thinking, "How in the world did you make it back from Portugal for the birth of your child!?" A lot of tiny miracles.

The first miracle was that my wife Erin called me as we were walking through customs in Lisbon. If she had called just an hour later, I would have missed the one flight back to New York. Instead, I was able to go right to the ticket counter while talking to crew scheduling who bought me a ticket, not only back to New York, but all the way to Minneapolis...that's miracle number two. We left Lisbon fifteen minutes early and because I knew the captain, I kindly asked him to fly a little faster than normal...miracles number three and four.

Once we landed in New York, I heard one of the pilots come on the P.A. and tell us that our gate was currently occupied. This wasn't helping my blood pressure. Because international flights can only park at certain gates, they very rarely change our arrival gate, but this day they did. Not only did they change the gate, but it was closer to my next flight (which was leaving in 45 minutes)...miracle number five.

Typically, when we go through customs, we have a crew line which is always shorter than the normal passenger line, but if you get stuck behind a foreign crew, you can be there for upwards of an hour. A few months ago, I signed up for Global Entry which is a program US Customs has for "trusted travelers". Basically, instead of meeting with a customs agent, you just scan your passport in a machine, and it lets you into the country. It cost $100 to sign up, but this day, it was worth a million dollars...miracle number six.

After I went through customs, I got through security and walked up to the Minneapolis flight about 10 minutes before departure time...miracle number seven. I told the gate agent that I was on an emergency positive space ticket and after a little confusion, she gave me my boarding pass. When I walked on the airplane, I talked to the pilots, told them what was happening and asked if they could fly a little faster. On the descent into Minneapolis, the pilots made the following announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a special request. There's a passenger on board who is on the way to the birth of his child, so if everyone would stay seated until he gets off the airplane, we'd appreciate it." That was very nice of them, but I was shocked when everyone actually stayed seated when the seat belt sign was turned off...miracle number eight.

Because employee parking in Minneapolis is at the Humphrey Terminal, and the airlines I typically fly on park at the Lindbergh Terminal, I have to take the light rail train between the two terminals. On Sunday afternoons, the train usually operates about every 20 minutes and typically, I'll show up to see the train pulling away. Not this day, I walked down to the train station and less than one minute later, the train pulled up...miracle number nine.

If you know me, I love to When I left New York, they had already started giving my wife an epidural, which I assumed meant she was getting close. I used that information to justify driving 90 MPH to the hospital. I figured this was my one opportunity to speed and have a really good excuse. Fortunately, I didn't get pulled over...miracle number ten.

I ran into the hospital expecting blood, screaming, doctors and nurses throwing scalpels across the room like circus jugglers. Instead, I felt like I had walked into a library. The lights were dimmed, classical music was playing, my wife's dad was reading a book, my mom was eating a sandwich, Erin was laying in bed resting. I said hello, changed out of my uniform, and three hours later...I met our little miracle.