On Monday morning my West Coast visit came to its end,
Now, maybe it was Karmic payback for having spent the weekend in such a state of useless, self-indulgent binge-movie-watching, face-stuffing, couch-potatoing nirvana (see yesterday's post), or maybe it was just in line with the ancient Roman mythological belief that the god of fortune carries two urns, a white one which pours out good luck and a black one that pours out bad and that he attempts to pour into everyone's life about the same amount but sometimes, since the urns are heavy and unwieldy, he ends not pouring exactly so one might get more of one kind of luck than the other, but everybody's going to eventually get some of each and so maybe it was my turn to get dumped on from the black urn, or maybe it was just the way things go when you opt to fly across country in January weather, but anyway, my flight back was terrible.
All right, maybe not terrible in the grand theme of things, and in truth I've spent much worse nights than I did being stuck in a plane on a Chicago airport runway for 3 hours as I was last Monday night. But what I'm saying is, my trip from Portland home to Columbus was not among the creme de la crop that I've experienced.
Not even because the plane's take-off was delayed for 5 hours. But because we, the passengers, were constrained to spend 3 of those hours waiting on the plane! Why on the plane?
But I'm getting ahead of my story.
It was an inauspicious journey from the start, when I got in the wrong check-in line at the Portland airport. I thought I was flying Air Alaska, but when I reached the check-in desk after standing in a long line for a goodly amount of time the agent told me in a most sorrowful tone that I needed to proceed to the other end of the terminal to the United check-in, which I quickly did,
Now I know some people prefer a window seat but me, I like aisle seat. Easier to get out for a bathroom break, a quick walk or some vertical yoga stretches in the aisle. If you're stuck at the window that's two people you have to climb over to get out.
This wasn't a problem initially, as I settled into a nice snooze, as I usually do shortly after take-off.
I woke up about an hour later ready for a bathroom break but the young man next to me had not yet awoken from his snooze. Two hours later he was still slumbering and appeared dead to the world, earbudded and his baseball cap pulled low over his eyes. And I was reaching the point of critical mass.
I finally had to wake him up, which turned out to be no easy feat. If I'd known he was going to be so deeply ensconced in the embrace of Morpheus (the Greek god of dreams, not the Matrix guy) I'd have suggested that he and I switch seats at the start and saved us both the grief.
So that was my Portland-Chicago flight.
By the 9:05 pm, boarding time for my 9:35 pm Chicago-Columbus flight, O'Hare was snowed in, iced in, or frozen in. Most of the planes were cancelled, but initially mine was just delayed. First for fifteen minutes, then for another half an hour, then for another, then we boarded, then we deplaned and were told that we'd re-board in an hour.
So with an hour to kill I decided to walk around and seek out some nourishment.
With so many flights cancelled there was a line that ran from here to eternity to the United Customer Service counter, where people stood holding boarding passes and pink cards that I imagine identified them as the unfortunate cancelees.
Though most of the airport stores were now closed a few of the quick-stop convenient stores had decided to stay open to accommodate the weary travelers. And so I was able to snag the perfect near-midnight comfort snack:
....I hadn't had Pops, (formerly known as Sugar Pops when I was young, back in the days before sugar was bad) in many decades. Dang, I'd fogotten how good those bad cereals are! When I got home (which I eventually did) I went out and bought a box. I may have picked up a new snack addiction there in O'Hare to add to my others. So whatever you do, don't even try Pops. It only takes one taste to get you hooked.
After a half hour later the captain announced that we were just waiting for the plane to be de-iced, which should happen in about ten minutes.
Another 45 minutes of so later the attendant announced that the cabin lights were now being turned off to ready the plane for take-off.
20 minutes later the attendant reminded us to buckle our seat belts and be sure our tray tables were upright.
And so it went, as we waited and waited while the attendant broke up the time now and then with very specific announcements about our status that kept us in a state of hopeful expectation that the plane was about to leave any minute. That must be a little psychological trick they teach in flight-attendant school.
At one point I asked the attendant if it was okay if I used the bathroom. He frowned and sucked in a big breath, looked back at the pilot's deck as if wondering whether he'd take off before I got back, then finally said, tersely, "Well, okay. Here, you better use the one up front," as if there wouldn't be time for me to make it to the economy class bathroom at the back of the plane.
Finally the de-icer appeared outside and did its thing to our plane. the de-icing took about half an hour, after which our by now personna non grata flight attendant announced that some de-icing fluid had gotten into the probe (whatever the probe is, but it sounded important) so we had to wait a little longer while the mechanics cleaned it out.
Frankly, I don't know why the attendant had to share that.
Anyway, the plane finally took off and delivered us from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio safe, sound, and bedraggled at 4 am.
Now, I just want to say that I don't hold it against the airline that the weather caused a 5-hour flight delay. I believe that, plan as we will, our lives are ultimately ruled by microbes and Mother Nature.
But why, why, why do the airlines make us wait sitting for hours on a plane when we could be waiting in the terminal, not swank accommodations by some people's standards, but many cuts above sitting immobile in a plane seat.
Just give me a reason, just a little bit's enough. Then I can learn to love again.