Hello Dear Readers. Today it is my wife’s turn to share one of her stories about how our family changes sometimes rise up to effect a day in the life…. Enjoy the read JE
Returning Amanda to college went without a hitch…..until I got to the airport. I got dropped off early because Amanda and Joe had to get back to campus for check-in and unloading. I had checked in to my flight the night before to save time and hassle at the airport. I was pretty confident that the day would go smoothly. I had my ducks in a row.
I passed through my gate. I had lots of time to kill so I grabbed an iced coffee, found a chair and pulled out the book that I had brought along.
After a while I noticed it was getting close to time for my flight. I thought it strange that when I looked at the board, it didn’t have my flight info. So I went to check the flight departure/arrival board and there it was…a 2 hour delay. Uggh. I was tired.
They also had changed my gate so I picked up my book, got another coffee and changed my perch. Met some new people whose flight had also been delayed. You meet some interesting people at the airport. I love to meet new people and talk to perfect strangers. So I was right in my element.
I sat at my new gate assignment and discovered that there were 3 flights to 3 different destinations scheduled to depart from that gate at the same time.
Now I thought to myself..”Hmm, wonder how they’re gonna pull this off?”
It was shortly after this thought that one of the flights got cancelled. Within 15 minutes all 3 flights were cancelled and we were led away to our prospective lines to get re-booked. I stood in line behind about 50 people who were scheduled to be on my flight and they were all put on stand-by status for the next 2 flights that were already booked to capacity…oh boy…not a chance.
The kiosk steward booked me on a flight for the following morning at 7:30 A.M.. I wish I could say I looked forward with anticipation to spending my night in the airport.
People lined the terminals and walkways. For a while I joined them sitting on the floor to ‘take a load off’. I texted to inform my family and friends of my dilemma, but soon my phone ran out of power-my lifeline to the outside world!! So began my search for “power”.
The airport had an entire mall inside; So it wasn’t hard to find a store which carried the item I couldn’t seem to live without for a day. $34.95 later I walked out with a smile on my face. My link to the outside world was to be maintained.
I found a floor space to sit and “plug in” and charge up. I got to talk to some interesting people and find out things about them that they would not have divulged had we not had the common dilemma of being bumped at the airport.
All charged up and ready to go. It was time for a trip to the ladies room. As I stood up, I discovered that the skort I was wearing had a side zipper that had given way. Sitting down it was invisible. When I stood, though it was quite another matter. From waist to thigh I was showing skin and red underwear to perfect strangers. I discreetly dashed to the ladies room to try to fix the zipper…to no avail. I asked a few women that came in if they had a safety-pin and nobody was able to come to my rescue accept a petite Indian woman who had a fashion pin she said I could keep. It was a good temporary fix but I still had to maintain my hold so my pants didn’t fall down coming out of the bathroom.
Heading to the airport convenience store, I asked the clerk who spoke broken English if he had any safety “pins”. He smiled and nodded in affirmation then led me to a display of ink “pens”. My heart sank when I realized the misinterpretation.
I just smiled and politely said..”hhmm…those aren’t quite what I was looking for”.
Off I went to continue my search for these pins that would save me from further humiliation. Finally I secured a needle and thread and headed to the bathroom to perform a miracle.
It was 9pm and I was exhausted and emotionally spent. I was also freezing! In summer I dress for summer. But somebody thought it was a good idea to keep the airport at a temperature that was good for polar bears, not for people. I approached the information desk to inquire if they had any of those cheap throw blankets and teeny pillows they provide you with on your flight. I was told that they would not be available until 11pm, but that I could take the shuttle over to the other terminal to check if they were available there. I thought it strange that there was an appointed a time for the distribution of warmth and wondered if they were really waiting for Convoy of Hope to come in and do their jobs for them.
I took the shuttle over to terminal c…in vain. They said they didn’t distribute until 11pm either.
I hopped back in the shuttle and headed back to terminal f. I disembarked. As I casually made my way to the escalator, I did not realize that behind me was a throng of people who were running late to catch their international flight. They proceeded to form a stampede in an effort to get to their plane on time.
After being pushed and knocked about , I wondered if they ever would have realized that in an effort to get to their destination, they had almost taken the life of an innocent woman in search of a blanket.
Well,11 o’clock was to be the magic hour so at 10:30 I went in search of a hot cup of coffee in hopes of warming up my insides. The woman across from me had purchased 2 pairs of wool socks from the airport convenience store..one pair for her hands…and a pair for her feet. I fell into sin at that moment as I realized I was coveting her priceless purchase. It only lasted a moment though as I went in search of… Ahh…a coffee shop.
Au Bon Pain..sounds pretty high-class if you ask me. I Was pretty certain they would have a good cup of coffee for me. The clerk was mopping the floor and told me to help myself. I did with great enthusiasm. I paid for my coffee and left a handsome $1 tip. Then I took my first sip with great anticipation. My hot coffee was only lukewarm!
I did an about-face, smiled sweetly and told the clerk that for some reason my coffee was cold and could I get another. He looked at me and kindly and stated he had shut all the coffee pots off an hour previous in preparation to close the store for the night. My heart sank.
I thought “I will surely freeze to death.”
As I walked dejectedly to my seat I passed by the information desk. I spotted a huge plastic garbage bag that I thought hopefully must hold ‘my’ pillow and blanket so I stopped.
The gentleman behind the desk was very pleased to inform me that “Yes…this indeed was the bag of treasure I was looking for.”
He opened the bag and pulled out a pillow which measured about 6X9 inches. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the promise of a soft cuddly blanket to go with it. He reached way to the bottom of the bag and when he withdrew his hand I could hardly believe my eyes and my face must have expressed exactly what I was thinking.
I could not believe I had been handed a piece of cellophane wrap the color of aluminum foil and was told to ‘have a good night..stay warm”.
The package read “emergency rescue blanket”. I suppose you could stretch it and say that being stuck over night in an airport classifies as an emergency of sorts. I took my blanket and pillow and humbly walked back to my seat.
I was not willing to concede to the fact that I may be the only one dressed like the tin man in the entire place so I kept it neatly folded in its package and let my teeth continue their chatter. At 12:17, the man at the information desk came strolling through with a smile on his face and the plastic bag over his shoulder as if he was Santa Claus.
I wondered if the smile on his face was because he knew what was in that bag and it brought joy to him to see the looks of disbelief that crossed people’s faces as he handed them what I considered to be a practical joke.
Finally, we all silently conceded that if we all opened our ‘gifts’ at once, it wouldn’t be so bad. We knew we would all look the same and so it didn’t seem to matter so much any more. The prospect of being warm was greater than the embarrassment.
The crumpling sound of tin foil cellophane was practically deafening.
We all found a place to lay our heads and wrap up like baked potatoes ready to be cooked. If you laid perfectly still, you might be lucky to get a moment of sleep. If the guy next to you moved ,though, it was over. If you were wearing pants and sleeves, you were all set. If not, the cellophane acted like shrink-wrap as your body gave off heat and the blanket ‘adhered’ itself to you. The night was long and I was glad to see the morning light so my efforts to sleep could come to a halt.
I was ever so happy to hear the announcement that flight 4091 to Manchester would be’on time’. I had a nice front row seat in the plane and the gentleman next to me and the stewardess embarked on a conversation recounting the days events. They listened intently to my story and we laughed hysterically at the various happenings of the day.
In the end, the gentleman looked at me and said “I travel all the time and I have never had a day as you have had. It is good to see you are still smiling and you are able to laugh about it and we could laugh with you.”
So, if the only accomplishment to this day being stuck in the airport was that it brought laughter and smiles to these perfect strangers, I would say it was all worth it.