Airport Appreciation Day.

posted in: Day In The Life, Rant, Travel 11
The view from the window. (I'm not even on the plane, yet, though.) Image: Wikipedia.
The view from the window. (I’m not even on the plane, yet, though.) Image: Wikipedia.


I had a pretty funny post going. It was an open letter to my flight from New York to Chicago. I do love the open letter form, as many of you know. But that was two hours ago.

That post has been deleted because your ol’ pal Mar doesn’t feel so funny anymore. Well, not funny ha-ha. I feel more sorta funny hysterical. Not funny hysterical as in “That’s hysterically funny!” but more like”Please, please make this day end.”

At press time, I’ve been at the Westchester County Airport since 3:30 p.m. It is now 9: 10 p.m. My plane will not board for another two hours.

But before you clutch your pearls, you must know that this is actually miraculous news. For just two hours ago — let’s call it the Planestine Era — I did not possess a boarding pass for a flight to Chicago tonight. Oh, no, no, my little marzipans. I had something else — two something elses, actually. I had in my sad, manicured paw a boarding pass for a flight tomorrow with a layover in Washington D.C. which would put me at O’Hare at nearly noon. And this scrap of paper was stapled to another scrap of paper which was a hotel voucher for a night’s sleep at the nearby La Quinta Inn. (I use the phrase “night’s sleep at the La Quinta Inn” loosely.)

It has been, as my dear mother would say, “Airport Appreciation Day.”

First of all, let me tell you that I understand the following:

  • No one is hurt, no one has died.
  • No one ought to be getting on a broken plane.

This is what I have been telling myself for the past seven hours. Perspective is crucial at times like these. Perspective is a tool that, as an adult, you simply must employ on Airport Appreciation Day. Otherwise, you are in danger of acting like a child and I assure you: A child is precisely what you want to act like when you’re in my situation. I get it.

Remember the days when you were at a slumber party or a circus and you pitched a fit because you just wanted to go home?? Remember how no amount of candy or toys or hugs and kisses from Mommy or Daddy or Gramma or Grampa would console you because you were tired and angry and fed up and grouchy and probably there was something going on with your poop (sorry, but you know I speak the truth) and you just freaked out because everything was lousier than it had ever, ever been, ever and NO NO NO.

Yeah, I know. But difference between children and adults is that we know better than to do that past a certain age. Oh, we have exquisite reasons to freak out. The feelings are totally legit. But when we’re grown, we have to try harder. We must breathe. We must recognize the humanity in the people who are working ticket counters and serving sodas on airplanes. After all, they are just like us. They are trying to earn a living. They do not wake up in the morning, stretch, and think to themselves, “How can I have the worst day of my life? How can I cause suffering in my fellow man? Oh, I know!”

No. The people who work at the airport wake up everyone else. They wake up like you. With few exceptions, these folks are trying their best to like, avoid hideousness.

I saw some hideousness today. Tonight. People yelling. People disgusted with each other. It was rough. And I wasn’t a cool cucumber the whole time: When they told me I wasn’t going to sleep in my bed tonight after being in three states this week, hot tears started pouring down my cheeks. Some people in the line might’ve thought I was a drama queen, but I assure you, those were real, bitter tears.

But I knew to dry up before long. This is life. This is travel. The man behind me, he lashed out at the ticket people working through the long line of exhausted, bewildered passengers. I’m not saying I’m better than than that guy; I’m saying he couldn’t overcome his inner, tired, sad child. Tonight, at least, I managed to overcome mine.

Writing helps me live my life. That’s why I do it. Writing is how I make sense of things, so as I wait here at the gate for two more — please say just two more — hours, it’s my only comfort. My blood pressure has dropped. I am breathing easier. This is the gift I have in my life. It’s you, it’s my journal, it’s my book. For me, I always have an escape route. Letters and a page.

Wait! I didn’t tell you how it worked out!

Right at the moment when I was leaving the airport to go to my sad, sad hotel room, there was announcement: American Airlines was going to see if they could get a plane over here to Westchester County to fly us to Chicago. I raced back through security. We all waited with bated breath. Then, the good news came: Yes! Yes, there would be a plane! It wouldn’t be here till 10:40 p.m., but it would come!

So I had a glass of wine with a few other folks in limbo and then I came down here to you.