If you know me, you know that I am susceptible to travel mishaps. I’ve literally been through it all! Weather delays, cancellations, technical problems that at this point I’m expecting something drastic to happen more than to have an easy and uneventful flight. So when my direct flight from LA to Aspen got rerouted to Denver, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. We were literally cruising on top of my city, when the pilot said it was too difficult to get in because of visibility problems (it was a heavy snow day) so we rerouted to Denver instead. Without any explanation as to what the next step was supposed to be, the flight crew told us to deplane and “thank you for flying with us,” then that was it. I guess it was a nicer way of saying ‘figure it out yourself.’
It would’ve been traumatizing if I hadn’t been through similar scenarios before, but I guess as a self-appointed expert in getting stuck, I knew my way around what to do. I went directly to customer service trying to come up with a couple different solutions in my head on my way there: stay for a night in Denver and fly on the next flight, maybe rent a car and drive home, or take a shuttle and get home in 6 hours. Unfortunately, because it was a matter of nature and not some technical issue, they are not required to give us a refund or a voucher for a hotel or an alternate trip. They could put us in the next flight, which was not until the next day. I was in line with a few other people from my flight listening to the same exact answer they gave to the person before us. After traveling for probably more than 24 hours and from a different timezone, I just wanted whatever option could bring me home the fastest.
I don’t exactly know how it happened but I ended up agreeing with a few people to share a car rental and take turns driving to our actual destination. Before finally getting to the car rental station, the whole scene was very chaotic. We were back and forth in Customer Service to figure out our bag situation, we kept losing each other and we had more people join our little group. In the midst of all of this, I managed to extend my hand to each of them and say “Hi, my name is Gizel, what’s yours?”
Yes, you’ve read it right. I was on a road trip with four strangers to get home. This might sound a little sketchy, but it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. To keep the identities of my new friends private, I wouldn’t name them in this blog, what I would let you know is this: we were all from different generations, (I was the youngest) and we all had very different careers, it was such an interesting dynamic. How we ended up all together, I’m not sure, but I knew that it was somehow meant to be.
We stopped by Wholefoods for a quick bite to eat before our four-hour road trip. We started really getting to know each other during that lunch. I found out that one of the ladies have children around my age, another was working in Hollywood the other was a therapist, and the other was, well, not really that much into healthy food, haha!
Our drive finally started, and if you expected a very awkward ride coming from five ladies who could not be much different from each other, you are completely wrong. The whole conversation flowed smoothly as if we’ve been best friends for years trying to catch up with what’s new in our lives. It was all new information to each other, but everyone related to everyone, and we each had something about ourselves to share.
We had very deep and meaningful conversations about everything under the sun. We talked about their children, and what they are currently each going through. We talked about the state of the world and the environment. We even went deep into composting and recycling! We had a conversation about relationships, and listened to each others advices. We talked about traveling; where we’ve been to and where we wanted to go. We talked about psychology, and emotions and how to handle them and understand them.
It started snowing pretty heavily through Vail, so the drive took longer, but that only meant even more things to talk about! We didn’t run out of topics. At one point, one of them borrowed a pen from me to write down a few of the points from our conversation. We passed a shuttle and one of the ladies said:
“Hey look, we could’ve been in that car right now!”
and then the other answered:
“Yes, but we probably wouldn’t have these conversations.”
She was right, somehow we all knew that there was a reason we all ended up in that car ride together. It felt nice, getting something almost soul-fulfilling from a car ride with a couple of strangers. When we finally got to Aspen, we each exchanged numbers and emails. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to get in touch with any of these ladies again, but I will never forget that afternoon I shared with them.