Posted by : Peter Prokaj Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The flight to Cancun, Mexico was to leave at 11:15 in the morning.  We were going to wake up early, and drive to the airport early, and be at the airport early.  The key word running through here is "early."  That was the plan.  Problem is, we live in Jacksonville, which is in North Florida.  The flight was departing from Miami, which is in South Florida.  300 miles (roughly 5 hours of driving) separates these two cities.

So as you can see, to be there early was a priority, and before we went to sleep the night before, we were determined to not be on time, but early.  We set a departure time of 4 a.m., but then we got bold and said, "Nay, we shall leave even earlier than that.  Set thy departure clock at 3:45 a.m."  We were feeling confident.

We set our wake-up clock at 2:45 a.m.  We actually woke up 2 minutes before that.  We were feeling good.  "See, we don't even need the stupid alarm, we can wake ourselves up whenever we want.  I can smell Cancun already!"  This is where things began to go awry.  We leisurely showered, had breakfast, had some tea, relaxed, and by the time that was over, it was 4:15.  Well...crap.

The driving map from Jax to Miami

We stumbled out of the apartment, set out on the road and the car clock showed 4:25.  We were still confident of getting there early.  "I'll just go a little faster", I said, like I can just shave off an hour as if I was Sebastian Vettel.

The ride was going smoothly, the road was empty, but we needed a bathroom break. 10 minutes.  We resumed the ride.  Another bathroom break.  10 minutes.  We still said we were going to make it in time, but instead of our voices being confident, there was a noticeable anxiety in saying we were going to make it, as if we knew that we were not going to make it, but saying it out loud would just ruin the whole ordeal.

I went a little faster, and was gaining some minutes back when I saw cop lights behind me.  Since I was going 78 in a 70 mph zone, I didn't think much of it and went to the middle lane so the cop could go past me and catch the bad guy somewhere up ahead in traffic.  The cop moved to my lane.  I slowed down.  The cop slowed down.  "What does this lady want?" I asked as I moved over to the right lane so the cop could catch the bad guy up ahead.  I looked into my rearview mirror and saw the cop pointing at me to pull over.  Well...crap.

We finally made it to Cancun

20 minutes later and $140 poorer (I failed to move over for an emergency vehicle, even though I slowed down), we were now in half-panic mode.  We had one more very brief bathroom break and parked the car at a Marriott hotel (we had a deal arranged with them).  Their hotel shuttle took us to the Miami Airport.  It was 10 a.m.  Our boarding was 10:40.  We sprinted to the curbside check-in.  The guy told us we had to go inside.  We dashed inside, all our bags swinging wildly, dodging bewildered travelers left and right.  We went to the check-in kiosk and it told us we had to go see an agent.  We ran to the agent.  The agent gave us a weird look, looked at our tickets and dryly said, "You missed your flight." Well...crap.

We eventually got lucky and rebooked our flight for no charge, but the lesson here is: Never be too confident.  Never take things for granted.  

And next time, drive to Miami the night before and stay at a hotel.  As much fun as it is to blaze across Florida to catch your flight, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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