Worldly Woes

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Panama? It wasn’t exactly my plan. This might be why I’m so neurotic about being on time, by the way. I was late getting to the airport and missed my flight. See? If you are late, you could accidentally wind up in Central America.

I’ll back up. I had met this guy in San Diego and fell so head-over-heels in love that I couldn’t bear another weekend without him. I booked a flight from San Diego to Panama City, Florida to leave Friday night and come back late Sunday — just in time for work the following morning. Of course, it’s long over now, but at that time there was nobody else on the planet for me.

But (I was in the Navy at the time) my ship had issues pulling back into port Friday afternoon. I was frantic and in tears on the bridge, begging the Officer of the Deck to drop a RHIB boat for me. Those are rigid hull inflatable boats that we used to board vessels in the Arabian Gulf to inspect their cargo (and retrieve basketballs that went overboard during our tournaments on the flight deck). Believe it or not, they agreed.

I had enough extra clothes to be able to drive straight from the Naval Station to the airport, but with rush hour and catching every possible red light, I made it to the check-in area 10 minutes after my plane took off.

“Don’t cry. Don’t cry,” I repeated to myself as they told me there were no flights to Florida until Sunday. I walked to the next airline ticket counter, where they told me they do not fly to Panama City, Fla. “Don’t cry. You’re a grown-up. You’re just in love. This will be OK,” I told myself as I checked with two more airlines.

I finally got to a counter that said they had a flight that leaves in an hour that connects through Miami to Panama City for $750. “Done!” I said, slapping down my credit card. (They paid us too much money in the Navy.)

The next few series of events, looking back, were such obvious triggers that something might be wrong that it still makes me laugh out loud. The plane was very big. Someone in the next row tried to make conversation with me and asked why I was going down to Panama City. I thought it was cute he said “down” when Panama City was up.

“Visiting my boyfriend. He’s in the dive school down there,” I answered. The man was confused.

“I’m from there. I didn’t even know we had a dive school,” he said.

Then, the safety brief was in Spanish. “It’s Miami,” I thought. Lots of Spanish speakers here.

It wasn’t until the pilot got on the intercom a half-hour into the flight and mentioned that we were flying over Jamaica that panic started to boil up. Jamaica? That couldn’t be right. I still thought there could be some crazy jet stream they use and flipped through the in-flight magazine for the route map. No red lines anywhere near Panama City, Fla.

I rang the attendant bell and asked him probably the dumbest question he ever heard in his life: “Where is this plane going?”

To make a long story short, I got to see the guy, but only for a few hours. We broke up shortly after anyway.

Of all the airport apps, I like WorldMate the best. You can email it your confirmation and it gives you your itinerary in a beautiful, easy-to-read display. You get flight alerts, alternate flights options, hotel info, and a notification if a LinkedIn connection is nearby to make it more social.

I’m still cool with the guy, and we joke about the incident today: “We’ll always have Panama.”


Christa Wittmier is “SUPERCW” on all social media. Find her on Snapchat, Soundcloud, Twitter, Vine and Instagram. By night, she is known as DJ SuperCW. By day, she is known as senior marketing director for Young’s Market Company of Hawaii. Her nightlife blog SuperCity runs every Wednesday on