I Found Gratitude When Things Went Terribly Wrong

I Found Gratitude When Things Went Terribly Wrong

True story of my urban adventure in Dubai.

I realised I had been a total ass.

As I pulled my cabin bag closer, it felt lighter, and then it hit me.

I had forgotten to pack the green jumper and the blue shirt I got my sister for her birthday. I knew exactly where I had left the package. It was sitting in my friend’s cupboard at home, snug in its wrapper.

And here I was, happily downing a coffee at the Dubai airport lounge, patting myself for checking in early to secure the boarding passes. My flight was 2.5 hours away, so there was no pressure to reach the gate.

But now what?

More than 50 km separated me from what I wanted to take away. I imagined turning up home with empty hands. It did not look nice.

My friend, bless her, did not waste any time telling me what I already knew – that I had been an ass.

She just put a plan in action – a Metro to the Mall of the Emirates station, a Taxi to her home on the Palm, a Taxi back to the Mall station, and the final leg, a Metro back to the Airport terminal. She was confident we would make it.

The gifts were four small journeys away, but I had no confidence I could do them all and make it in time for the flight.

I’d be lying if I said I was up for this adventure. In fact I was terrified of being stuck in limbo at the airport, watching my plane fly away without me.

Very soon I realised I was not in charge any more. She would not let me drag my feet on this. And turning up without gifts was not an option.

Before I could think it through, I was being led out of the airport towards the metro station, to start the first leg of our urban adventure.

We had to pass 13 stations before we got off to hail a taxi. Time passed too slowly for me not to think of several worst-case scenarios. If the compartment had not been crowded, I would have paced it.

The banter from the people around reached my ears, and I listened to them with interest. It had the intended calming effect. I began counting the stations to our stop.

As we neared our destination, my friend had an idea.

I’d remain at the station while she took a taxi home and returned with the missed goodies. If she got caught in traffic, I could still take the return train to the airport and make it in time for my flight.

I felt terrible for making her go through this because of my absent-mindedness, but I had no choice. We got off, and she raced to the taxi stand while I made my way to the opposite platform.

The waiting game began.

I wandered the platform, the light cabin bag in tow. It reminded me of why I was where I was and what my friend was out chasing.

My immediate feeling was that of gratitude. I was lucky I was not alone when I discovered the missing items.

Still, I felt like a passive player in this drama. Time to shake out of it and participate.

My friend shared her live location, and I checked in every few minutes. Taxi entering the stem of the Palm, exiting the fronds, passing the Atlantis, turning into the lane, mad rush to the apartment, back in the taxi, and re-entering the stem.

I watched the blue dot go move through all these crucial points on the screen. I willed it to go faster, grateful that it was moving at all.

But minutes turned into an hour, and I knew I had to take the next metro out without her.

I hopped on the next train and counted the stations back to the airport terminal. Just as I made it inside, the blue dot began inching in my direction.

I confirmed my gate number from the board and began my vigil near a coffee shop.

Looking at her live location, I suddenly noticed she had moved past the Metro station straight into traffic. I broke into a cold sweat.

I had been looking forward to seeing her one last time before I boarded, and now that seemed impossible. All I could see was a red line of heavy traffic on Google Maps. In a panic, I placed a call to find out what happened.

The taxi guy had been roped in to play his part in getting my friend and the precious cargo back to the airport. They had skipped the Metro in favour of driving straight to the terminal. Apparently, he knew his way around all that traffic.

Was it a good idea? Only one way to find out.

When you are anxious, it is strange how you notice the little things. People, pushing cartloads of luggage, unsure of where to check-in. Frequent fliers making their way confidently around. Babies looking around at the throngs of people in wonder. Elderly passengers look lost in the sea of humanity.

And one little person waiting to see a friend and pack a parcel.

How will this end?

My flight status had now changed from ‘Check-in Open’ to ‘Security Check’. Soon, it would say ‘Boarding. I tried to ignore it.

With some excitement I noticed that the blue dot on the live location map had now entered the airport ramp. I unlocked and opened my bag, ready to put the jumper and the shirt in and rush away.

The blue dot soon turned into my friend, who saw me jump up and down as she entered the terminal. Gifts were snugly packed, bag locked and ready.

I hugged my friend with everything I had. This was no mean feat. I had not words, it a crazy chance and she took it for us.

The flight status changed to ‘Boarding’. We clicked a quick selfie, and I went inside to catch the flight home.

As the aeroplane lifted into the skies, I reflected on everything that had gone right for us to make this happen.

My friend’s willingness to crisscross Dubai and my ability to navigate its infrastructure combined helped make a birthday gift miracle.

The unknown taxi driver went above and beyond to make sure I did not fly back empty handed.

Quality public transportation and connectivity had empowered people to help salvage this misadventure.

Well-built technology enabled me to track movements and decide if I should move ahead or stay back.

And a selfless friend willingly raced across the city on a mad, almost impossible quest.

As the flight gained height, I began to drift off. My only feeling was of gratitude about the help I received.

I remain awe in the privilege we have been given to save much more than just forgotten gifts.

2 Replies to “I Found Gratitude When Things Went Terribly Wrong”

  1. all my adventures , insignificant as they may seem to most have been realised because of you , and the tradition lives on!
    the larger message in your story is more true than we care to reflect upon. just as a rock solid infrastructure is the building block and measure of the progress and development of a nation , a doughty will and spirit is the foundation , brick and mortar of a humans journey .
    look forward to more mad adventures chasing miracles for love!

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