Oh Omnipotent Airline Worker

At approximately 12:16 AM last night, I begin packing for my 10-day excursion back in the burbs of Chicago for the Thanksgiving holiday. Seven minutes in, I finish packing all my clothes with the realization that my wardrobe now caters to the Southern California climate and everything I need to survive actual seasons is stashed in yellow and black boxes in my parents’ basement. I’m not kidding, I don’t even have a coat.

I then spend the next thirty minutes trying to figure out how I fit an entire semester’s worth of law school into two carry-ons. This is the second time in my legal education that I’ve packed everything up for over a week, and I would like to vow that this is the last time I will do so, but there are no guarantees.

Bags are packed pending toiletries around 1:10 AM, so I hit the hay for 4 hours and 52 minutes of dreamless bliss. Rolling out of bed, I finish my packing, get dressed, and take everything downstairs to prep to call an Uber to the airport. I pop some toast in the toaster and consider making coffee. It’s 6:25 AM, and with an 8:05 departure time and a 15-minute drive to the terminal, I’m feeling good in my timing. But of course that’s when chaos descends.

First, I forgot to move my car into the garage. So now I’m ditching the coffee plan–and you guys know me and my coffee addiction–to run out to my car, only to be engulfed in a sea of fog. I’m not kidding, I could barely see 15 feet in front of me. But I’m a Midwestern girl at heart, and a show of weather cannot slow me down. So off I go, quickly maneuvering sweet Dorota (my car) into the tandem-parking spot. Then back up the stairs I run, only for the kitchen to smell faintly of burnt toast. Damn. It’s approaching 6:35 and I’m beginning fear my bag won’t get checked in time, so I call a Lyft and gather my bags.

Notification: Lyft arriving in 2 minutes.

Shit, still dragging my ginormous suitcase of sweaters and textbooks down the stairs. Don’t have time to butter my toast, so I’m eating it plain (and burnt).

Notification: Lyft has arrived.

I gather everything up, dash down the stairs, and jump in the car. Two minutes into the drive, I realize I left my fluffy sweatshirt, the only thing I had to protect me from the unrelenting and cruel Chicago Winds that lay siege on the O’Hare arrival deck. Oh well, it’s too late, I’ll have to improvise.

I get to the airport, Southwest Terminal, 12 minutes later because it is 6:45 in the morning, and run up to the kiosk, only for them not to be able to find my flight. Why? Because I’m at the American kiosk, which was to be expected because the Hollywood Burbank airport is actually the size of my right pinkie toe. Okay, okay, I’m checked in and in line for security. The home stretch, right? Wrong.

I get to my gate at the end of the terminal, A9. Why does it say Dallas/Ft. Worth? Did I book the wrong flight? No, gate change to A1, beginning of the terminal. After a 100-yard dash (again, size of my pinkie toe), I find a seat and take a moment to relax.

But only a moment, because that’s when the notifications start flooding in.

That fog that left me unfazed this morning? Yeah, it absolutely shut down all flight operations here in Burbank. What was initially a 20-minute delay has now turned into 4 hours. 8:05 AM departure is now 12:16 PM.

So I sit and I be productive with work and school, because what else can I do? I’ll tell you what else I can do: people watch.

I’m seated right next to the desk at the gate and watching people struggle to grasp that the Southwest Airlines worker who is stationed there is not an omnipotent goddess with the power to tell the future and control the weather. It’s truly been the highlight of my day. One man, definitely stoned, stood up there for 8 minutes while she patiently explained to him that the Burbank radar could not work in these weather conditions, and no, she did not know when it would clear up. Another man just kept clapping really loud while waiting. Another man told us that every flight was cancelled and we were all SOL.

So I sat and watched this insanely patient woman reschedule probably 65 people onto new flights, both here and at LAX, and dealing with disgruntled travelers early in the AM. Someone brought her coffee, another a muffin, all in appreciation for four hours of non-stop chaos. I thought that was pretty cool.

Just serves as a reminder that shit happens, don’t expect people to perform miracles for you, pass it forward if you can, and it’s okay to embrace the chaos every now and then. Might make for a fun blog post.


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