What’s in a name?… My Heathrow Fight or Flight mode #Art4ChangeHaiti

Finally, I’d arrived at Heathrow Airport ready to begin my journey to volunteer this summer. After 3 weeks of intense fundraising, 2 days without sleep, 1 hour till my flight takes off… No, wasn’t in the Boarding Gate lounge as I should have been, or even checked in despite arriving 3 hours before my flight.

Due to a technical fault  there was a wait until the check-in reopened. And after everyone was done pushing in front of me, when it was finally my turn to see the check-in agent, her face spoke a thousand words – which didn’t include my name (at least not my first name).

The names given to me by my parents are generally the cause of banter I have with anyone who might not be accustomed to the notion of having more than one name that doesn’t come from the Holy book. I have an old-fashioned Christian name, Ghanaian day name and a 12-letter word name on my passport – not to mention my German surname! I often keep things simple to prevent any confusion – or mispronunciation (for example, Kai is an abbreviation of a super long name – Africans, you can relate!). On this occasion it was a look of confusion the check-in agent had in response to seeing my passport. It turned out that my first name was spelt as my surname. But what’s in a name? Surely this error could be fixed within minutes with just the click of an edit and save button (their system isn’t quite as simple as WordPress, I can know evaluate). There was just 10 minutes to complete this task before check-in closed, and it turned out to be mission impossible. I had to go through the external travel agency I’d booked with.

Fight or flight mode
Fight or flight mode

I wont go into all the details of what was running through my mind whilst on the phone to the Ebookers agent. The mere thought that all the effort I’d put into fundraising for #Art4Change project would be in vain, made my heart sink and brought tears flooding to my eyes. My  “fight or flight” mode was on. The news of potentially having to buy a whole new ticket to amend a name mistake (whose fault I intend to investigate), was in comparison to a raging beast my ancestor would have had to face for their “flight or flight” mode to come on – not because a journey would start and end in the same place.

But where there is a will there is a way (or simply God‘s way).

1 hour ago I had seriously contemplated emailing the CEO of Delta Airlines (go straight to the top if you want some answers, isn’t that what they say?), going as far as googling and contemplating which of the Corporate Leadership Team looked most sympathetic.  Thankfully that wasn’t necessary when;

2 hours ago I got a call-back the Ebookers agent (who’d clearly gone out of her was to advocate on my behalf – thank you Ms H!) with news that Delta had agreed I could pay a penalty and amend the name error. Music to my ears! No more feeling I let down the children I want to help before I’ve even arrived.

Now it’s 3 hours until my flight, and I’m able to sit and write this blog post in calmness, despite the buzz around me. No more “fight or flight” – just a fighting spirit to never give up, and a flight to eventually catch!

Interesting that when I went to check-in for the second time, my name was again a subject of interest (at least not because there was any error – phew). I didn’t respond with small-talk about how I’d missed the previous flight because of a name error, however I did share with him the relevance of my calling; “and the long one” I informed, “means *God’s remembrance..” and with that, I affirmed it!

#Art4ChangeHaiti shall continue! Thanks for following the journey, even if i was slightly delayed! Special thanks to the lovely agent from Ebookers and Delta Airlines.

-Kai 🙂

*From the Ga language of the people of Accra/Greater Accra Ghana


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