I am not in good shape. Wait, that’s not entirely accurate. I am just not in good enough shape to fly on United Airlines. I say this only because after a recent experience, I’m pretty sure UA public flight requirements fall somewhere between Cross Fit proficiency and SEAL school.

To be fair (to me), I do like to work-out. I live in Vermont and skied my ass off this winter. When I wasn’t on the hill, I monkeyed around in the gym grabbing the occasional weight and pretending I knew what a kettle bell swing was. (I don’t.) If the moon was casting enough light, I’d take the hound out for a nighttime snowshoe. During all of these activities, I felt my heart beat at an elevated level. After all of these I activities, I believed I might, just might, be in some sort of “shape.” Not bad-ass shape. Just, you know, like I could earn a gold star in the seventh grade Presidential Fitness Test type of shape. But apparently all of that rhythmic heart beating only had a hypnotically delusional effect upon me because as I learned last week, I am not tough enough to fly United Airlines.

I do have to give a bit of disclosure here. I am a fan of the comedian Louis CK’s take on flying. You don’t get to complain about sitting on runways for prolonged periods of time as you are, in fact, about to soar into the clouds like a bird, and land several hundred, if not thousands, of miles from where you started in a mere matter of minutes or hours.

It is thanks to Louis CK that I don’t mind sitting on a runway. And I don’t mind that after arriving safely at my destination, it might take a while to have one of those tractor thingies hook-up to the plane and pull it to the jetway. It makes sense that someone might not have scheduled enough tractor drivers or maybe a tractor person called in sick and they’re down a girl, and some planes are just going to have to wait. However….all of my merry mellowness tends to evaporate when there’s a connection to be made.

Don’t get me wrong. All of my aforementioned understandings of things that can go awry are still in place. Shit happens. It’s just that when there’s a connection to be made, now I need some other folks to start understanding.

I need flight attendants to understand that missing said connection means missing my father’s 70th birthday. I need my fellow plane mates to understand that when the flight attendant asks that anyone not trying to make a tight connection remain in their seat to allow for those trying to make a tight connection a chance to get off first, she means it and isn’t just playing favorites to the panicked-looking woman in row 26 of a 30 row plane. And most of all I need the entire UA team to understand that ultimately all of this is on them, and they’ve got to show a sense of urgency in getting me to my final destination on time, relatively.

I’m not talking about a SWAT team escort. Just the slightest display of hurriedness: gate agents with determined looks on their faces placing calls, scrappy sky caps peeling up in golf carts, or even a UA intern with a list of gates for connecting flights would have sufficed. But there was none of that.

Instead, all of my fellow 120 passengers coincidentally had tight connections and rose in unison. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are.) There was no scrappy sky cap in a golf cart just waiting to recreate a Dukes of Hazard chase scene in order to get me to my next gate. And the UA agent that was waiting did actually appear to be just an intern; she had a great concerned smile, but zero idea of whether or not I had a chance to make my next flight. It was at this moment, as she chomped her gum and said “Umm” for the fifth time in four seconds, that I decided to make a break for it.

I had only a weekend’s worth of gear on my back and was already in the United terminal. Hell, how far could it be? Well…as I can now attest, far enough that when I did make it to my final gate, the agent gave a thoughtful stare at the AED machine mounted on the wall next to her.

I made my connection. I’m also sure that I made several people on the final leg of my journey a bit nauseous, because when I have to break into an airport sprint in a fleece, a knit cap, and a ten-pound pack, I tend to cough and need to spit…a lot. But I made my dad’s 70th birthday. And if you were seated in my row and have a problem with the fact that I turned my empty Tito’s bottle into a spittoon, take it up with United. They might just award you a CrossFit membership.