This morning was a brutal one. I went to bed at midnight, slept for a couple hours because I was anxious, and then left at 4AM to catch a flight. We boarded seamlessly, kicked back from the jet bridge and were on our way.
Then a sensor was dirty, so we turned around. The pilot anticipated a quick conversation with the maintenance team. Then he expected a fifteen minute delay to lube it (don't ask, I don't know either, other than that they used the exact word 'lube').
After two hours on the plane, they de-boarded us.
A line formed, so I decided to stand in it. What I was waiting for, I was truly not sure. But I followed the crowd. Then a gatekeeper told me to call the airline's customer service line to rebook my flight if I wanted to.
I didn't know if I wanted to. I didn't know how long our flight would be inoperable, but I thought if I called at least we could talk through it.
So I dialed and go a hold of a woman who faked a "ooooh no," and told me that she could snag me a seat on the 10AM flight. Then she placed me on hold. Once she came back, she told me that if I took the 10AM seat, I'd lose my current flight's seat.
"In your professional opinion, what should I do?" I ask the customer service representative.
"You're the one in the airport" was her unhelpful response.
I could feel the tears welling up in my throat. I was going to be livid if I gave up my seat on this plane and it took off soon thereafter (bear in mind, it was 7:45AM so the 10AM flight was still a long way off). But I was going to be mad at myself if I passed up a good seat out and this plane never took off.
I didn't know what to do. Then the woman told me it was the last seat and I needed to take it or not. She said something mildly convincing like, "Well, they haven't updated your time yet which means they're unsure," so with that vague utterance, I took the 10AM seat.
I was wracked with anxiety. I'm talking full stress sweat levels of anxiety. What did I just do? Was it right? How do I know that it's right? Should I just walk away so I never find out if I'm right or not?
I finished my complimentary snack (you know it's bad when they wheel out the snack cart), and the captain came out. He got on the mic, and it was judgment time for my decision. I could barely hear him over my anxiety.
But then a rush of relief washed over me. The maintenance team needed a new part, which they needed to order, so they couldn't fly the original plane today. And the plane they were using to replace it didn't get in until 2PM.
I gave a passenger next to me a fist bump in excitement. I actually almost cried happy tears (one of five or so times I thought I might cry today, but the only time out of sleep-deprived joy).
I had made the right call.
How do you ever know if you're making the right decision in the moment?
I mean truly, how do you ever know without being able to look in hindsight and judge your judgement call? Something right could feel wrong and vice versa. You might weigh all the facts and emotions, but still make the wrong choice. Or you might do what you think is right, but it's really wrong.
We operate every day living in our own perspective and our own version of reality. I fully recognize we don't live in a black and white world, but that there is a lot of grey area with color and contrast to every choice we make. But what do you decide when both options seem plausible? What do you do when something you know to be right starts to feel less right?
The older I've gotten, the more I realize that unfortunately decisions that you wish were simple are riddled with doubts, mostly because with maturity comes understanding the nuances and repercussions of every choice. Lots of big choices can't be quantified as entirely right or entirely wrong, nor will you really know if it was the best choice until after you make it. All you can do is weigh everything you know and make the best decision you can in the moment and know that sometimes you'll win and sometimes you'll lose. For the entire Richmond International Airport, I am thankful I won today or else people would have witnessed a grown woman ugly crying in a corner.