My day starts 13 minutes after my plane takes off. Sadly I’m in bed when that happens, and SA 603 is taxiing into position on runway 14 at OR Tambo.
Oh my god! I’m late! I’m late! I missed my flight! I missed my flight! My god! But I set my alarm. I set my alarm. I thought it was getting late! It was supposed to go off at 4.15am!
I pack in 35 seconds, and I’m out the door within a minute. I scramble into the car and I’m on the highway in a freaking state! Oh! My flippin’! God! I missed my flight. We’re off to Cape Town, our whole management team, to go to this conference. And I missed my flight!
I don’t even bother checking my phone, but I know what happened. I set the alarm for 4.15pm by mistake. Hallelujah, the traffic hasn’t quite started, and I’m able to absolutely plant it down the N3, over Gillooly’s and onto the R21. I park in the expensive parkings right at the airport building, and sprint over the boardwalk. I stop at the flight-schedule board. It’s 7am. There’s a 7.30am flight. It’s already boarding, but it might be possible…
I sprint to the SAA ticket-sales counter and meet Arushan. “Dude! You gotta get me on the 7.30 to Cape Town.” It’s R341 for the flight change. By fluke I’ve got cash on me.
“Just go to the check-in counter…”
I lurch across there and immediately forget the flight number that Arushan’s just told me. “I’m on the 7.30 to Cape Town!” I’m schwitzing like a rapist.
I show the guy my driver’s licence. Come on, come on, come on. Ag, no. He’s a rookie. My stress transmits to him, and he starts fumbling over his keyboard. “Er, I’m having a problem with the system…”
After an eon, he hands me my boarding pass and my driver’s licence and I lurch into middle-distance stride across the marble check-in hall. I show my boarding pass to the lady, then ram my phone and keys through the scanner. On the other side I stuff the things into my pocket and…
My drivers! Have I got it? I check my money clip… no. My pockets… pants, jacket, inside and out… Oh god, where’s my driver’s! I’ve lost my driver’s! I’ve dropped it somewhere in the check-in hall. (Tick, tick, tick…)
I’ll end up in Cape Town without any ID! They won’t let me on my flight back!
I grab the nearest security guard. David, his tag says…
“Calm down,” he tunes me, “Calm down!”
I’ve got him by both shoulders, I’m six inches from the end of his nose. My flight takes off in a minute’s time. I’m not got missing two flights in a row. I’m not!
“My friend. David. Here is my phone number. Remember my face. Somewhere in this airport is my driver’s licence. Please! Please try to find it for me. Please!”
Tears are coming. I’m at a low ebb. I’ve got thirty seconds to make the flight that’ll take me to a meeting I’m late for anyway, so my boss can kak on me massively. I’m racing to my doom without any ID.
It is 7.12am on the worst day of my life.