Missing the flight
“Paging Janice Doogan. Janice Doogan, please report to Gate 4 for boarding.” I didn’t know who Janice Doogan (not her real name) was as I and my wife waited at Gate 4 in St. Louis. Our flight to Atlanta was preceded by a flight to Orlando. Apparently, Janice Doogan was in danger of missing her flight.
Again, the call went out, only this time a countdown began. “Janice Doogan, please report to gate 4. Your flight will close in 15 minutes.”
When no Janice Doogan was forthcoming, the announcement was repeated, this time informing the passengers that the flight would close in 10 minutes. It was about that time that a man began frantically using his cell phone trying to reach, it soon became clear, Janice Doogan.
As Mr. Doogan (as would be revealed) was talking to Janice Doogan, the gate attendant announced that the flight would close in five minutes and would Janice Doogan please report for her flight. Amazingly, the attendant made another announcement at the two minute mark.
Mr. Doogan was now practically shouting on the phone informing his listener that they were about to miss the flight.
As Janice Doogan finally strolled down the hall, the announcement was made that the flight would close in one minute. Apparently, Janice Doogan had been shopping, as indicated by a number of bags from stores in the airport.
The man with the phone said, “We’re going to miss the flight,” to which Mrs. Doogan indignantly replied, “I have on flip-flops. I couldn’t run.”
When the Doogans got to the gate, the attendant sadly informed them that the flight was closed and the gate could not be re-opened.
Janice Doogan wailed loudly, “Honey, we’re going to miss our flight!”
I leaned over and whispered to my wife, "I bet she wishes she had that to do over.”
I bet we all wish we had things we could do over. Poor choices, bad decisions, lack of preparation, insufficient information, unforeseen complications, unexpected consequences, downright laziness, and a host of other factors all contribute to our saying, “I wish I had that to do over.”
In 1985, 1989, and 1990, the “Back to the Future” trilogy starring Michael J. Fox and others explored the possibility of going back in time and changing the future. Most people have said, “If I had that to do over ...” But we don’t.
What we do have is a fresh start every day. While some things cannot be changed, much of the future can be influenced and affected by what we do now — by what we do today.
These are the waning hours of 2011. Shortly, the year will be “in the books,” as they say in sports. For good or ill, it is finished with no possibility of a re-do. The gate will have been closed.
Janice Doogan, and her frustrated husband, with the help of the gate attendant, were booked on a later flight to Orlando.
My guess is that she didn’t make the same mistakes she made that cost her the earlier flight to her home. Perhaps she stayed at the gate. Or maybe she continued to shop but left plenty of time to make her way back to the gate. Or maybe she was late again but, this time, took off her flip-flops and ran.
A new day dawns, a new year beckons. If we have learned from the past, we will make better decisions and have a better year.
If we have not, then we will repeat the same patterns, make the same mistakes, and wind up at the same place, having missed the flight once again and be left wondering what happened.
The future is in our hands.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]