“Flying the friendly skies” is a bit of a jest when you spend your summer nights sitting. On the ground. In a darkened airport. A blast of air conditioning almost strong enough to fly a kite blowing down the concourse. Thousands of miles from home.
It gives you time to read. Think. People watch. Wait for the gate attendants next announcement in Pidgin Mumblese. Surprise! Your gate’s been changed. What’s this? The fifth time?
No. You’re not surprised. Resigned. Awaiting a coup de grace. You ask Mr. Mumbles about the plane that just pulled in at this gate. Well, our operations people just decided moments ago that it would be better to send it someplace else, he beats around the bush. He assures you that there is another plane. You think about another multi-hour wait in a chair that was new when Nixon was in the White House.
You hear another Mumblese announcement that a plane will be there soon at the next gate. Seconds later, in clear English: “Your flight is canceled.” As if you didn’t already know this. How many wasted nights in Chicago does this make? you ask yourself. As if it wasn’t obvious as the afternoon became evening became night became morning and the text alerts had simply stopped five hours ago that your destination wasn’t really all that important to the operations machine.
Walking to keep from freezing. Reading to pass the time. Writing notes about your novel in your journal. Buying another cup of coffee and hugging it close for warmth.
At least you’re not traveling with children like the family sleeping on the floor. The tears flowing freely down the little boy’s cheeks.