Flying home a day early to keep an appointment with my surgeon was frustrating (although I did work overtime to make up the lost day of work placement). What was even more frustrating was arriving at the airport two hours early. This should ensure I am at the correct departure gate with time to spare, correct?
Instead, what happens is that on any given day, each plane scheduled to arrive is auto-assigned a gate number. As planes are late landing, delayed taking off, or required to sit at the gate while they're being repaired (landing gear or engine problems? YES PLEASE ground it until it's fixed!), the numbers shuffle so planes that haven't yet arrived are told to prepare for a different gate.
By the time my flight arrived, it had been through four gate numbers and instead of the calm, collected me that entered the airport, it was a rather confused and hurried me that made sure, several times, that gate # the fourth was in fact the landing place of my flight home.
Lesson learned: arriving early doesn't always save you time and hassle.