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By the time I squeezed through the closing doors, I was ready to punch the walls if I heard that same bossy voice telling me that I was “delaying the departure of this train.” I was delaying the departure?

I’d timed my trip to DIA perfectly, I thought, pulling onto Pena Boulevard 130 minutes before my flight, which meant I’d be parked on the top level of the garage and at curbside with two hours – two hours! – to spare. I had visions of leisurely reading the papers, firing up the computer, making those calls I’d forgotten. But then I saw the signs: West Garage FULL, East Garage FULL. Economy lots FULL. Pikes Peak shuttle parking FULL. It was off to that hellish Mt. Elbert, where I’d spent hours in December trying to find my car in a vast expanse of giant white bumps created by the blizzard.

But even then, there hadn’t been dozens of cars lined up outside the lot’s pay stations. Or worse, over a hundred people – and their luggage – already waiting to cram onto the shuttle bus, which was nowhere in sight. (While I joined the horde, I called the DIA PR office, which informed me that the parking crush was nothing new – just summer. Maybe so, but who’s scheduling the shuttle buses? The same wizard who designed the millions-over-budget FasTracks?). Finally, after close to thirty minutes, a shuttle showed up, and the driver spent precious minutes trying to cram in every person and suitcase possible. Which translated into just as many precious minutes unloading at the terminal.

Where I encountered another horrifying sight that I hadn’t seen since last December – security-screening lines that stretched across the back of the terminal and down along the baggage area.

Eight minutes before my flight was scheduled to depart (on Concourse C!), I was out of security and onto the train – where, fortunately, the bossy Reynalda Muse had been replaced by Adele Arakawa. So I did not punch the walls – thus saving my hand to bang on the aircraft door, which was already shut when I got to the gate. But I made it.

This time. And how was your summer vacation? – Patricia Calhoun


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