This is what I said in response to a text from my Dad about an hour ago. Dramatic? Maybe. Am I serious about my reaction? Yes.
You might say I was channeling Michael Scott in my reaction:
To back up: my dad, for some reason, felt the need to text me this article about weather concerns for Wednesday night travelers in the Mid-Atlantic to New England region of the country. When are Rahul and I flying out for Thanksgiving break? Wednesday night, of course. Why would my dad text me this article, knowing my history with flight anxiety? Probably just to inform me but now, of course, I’m panicking. It’s not just that I want to get home to spend a few days with my family–I’m REALLY REALLY looking forward to that and need the time away to refresh for the rest of the semester.
It’s that I can’t spend another night in the Baltimore-Washington airport.
Back in May (pre-Wordifications revitalization), I headed home to TN for my friend Alex’s wedding. I got a text alert about an hour before leaving for the airport that the flight had been delayed. However, given the anxious traveler that I am, I had my ride drop me off at the time we had planned, thinking I could spend an extra hour in the airport, no problem. I checked in, had some dinner, drank a beer, and read The Fault in Our Stars.
Then the flight was delayed another hour. And another. And two more. Next thing you know, the flight–originally scheduled for 8:10 pm–was delayed until 1 AM.
By the time the 1 AM delay rolled around, I had already circled the airport twice, so I decided to go to my gate and hope for the best. Of course, I found the other passengers all “hoping for the best” as well, except their hoping was much louder and much more complainy than mine. I listened to outraged passengers yell at the staff who could do nothing more than tell them what the computer screen was relaying to them–that our flight was delayed for “unknown” reasons.
The fun started, however, when the flight was canceled around 11 AM. They told us, immediately, that a new flight was being created for us at 6 AM the next morning and that we would also receive a $100 voucher. All we had to do was come to the desk to receive our new ticket.
Most passengers begrudgingly obliged, myself included. I think most of us realized that the situation was beyond our control, beyond even Southwest’s control, and just wanted to get our new ticket and go to sleep. I was actually relieved, because after hours of waiting anxiously, picking my fingernails, I could get some rest, knowing a plane would come at 6 AM to whisk me away.
But then there were the others.
The others, whom I also like to refer to as “The Whiners,” were, of course, sitting in a circle right beside me, so I overheard everything. For the next 2 hours, they did nothing but complain about how this was terrible, inexcusable, ruining their travel plans, ruining their lives, the worst thing that had ever happened. They complained, complained, complained. One man complained loudly and very openly in an obvious attempt to get the rest of us just as angry as he was. He was also the passenger that stormed up to the desk several times to remind the Southwest employees how upset and outraged he was. After that night, I decided that those kind of people are some of the worst. Not only did he want to be angry and upset, but he very clearly wanted to get everyone just as angry and upset as he.
While the experience was tiring and tried my patience–again, I refer to Shirley Bennett to describe what I was feeling–
I decided, somewhere between our plane finally showing up at 2 AM (it had been delayed in Tampa and then again in Buffalo and the people on the plane were even more pissed than The Whiners) and falling asleep, curled up on one of those Southwest armchairs, that I could either join The Whiners and complain about how terrible this was, how it was ruining my life, how I couldn’t believe “they” had let this happen–while the weather was clearly the culprit–or I could just accept it, get some sleep, and look forward to arriving in Nashville the next morning. Luckily, I had scheduled my flight for Thursday evening, so I missed none of the wedding festivities (for which I was a bridesmaid) and was able to nap Friday afternoon to not feel so spacey.
Even though I rectified the situation in my mind, I don’t think I can do it again for one reason: The Whiners. That made everything 1,000 times worse. Tell me, please, how does complaining about a situation LITERALLY OUT OF YOUR CONTROL make you feel any better? I have complained plenty in my life, but either do something about it (like try to get on another flight) or just accept it and move on. Anything else in between is downright annoying.
That being said, I’ll leave you with this list.
Things I Learned Spending the Night in the Airport:
1. A scarf makes a great makeshift blanket. For this reason, I am taking my Zara shawl tomorrow just in case….
2. Pack socks in case you need to warm up your feet while trying to fall asleep.
3. Curling up in the huge armchairs is infinitely more comfortable than lying on your back on the regular chairs.
4. Buy snacks early. Most of the shops close at 10.
5. Tell your other passengers that most of the shops close at 10 so you don’t have to listen to one of The Whiners complain about how “they should have told us there were no vending machines and that the shops close. I’m hypoglycemic, I have to have a snack!”
6. Resist the urge to slap said girl, or even gently point out that someone who is hypoglycemic should always have snacks on them, regardless of the situation.
7. Prepare your entertainment. Be sure to have TV shows ready, or a book, or even work to get you through the many, many hours.
8. If traveling alone, make friends with at least one other non-whiner person, so he or she can watch your stuff when you make bathroom runs.
9. Keep your frustration or exclamations of “I have somewhere to be!” to yourself. Everyone on the damn plane has somewhere to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be at the airport with you.
10. Run up and down the empty airport hallways, screaming at the top of your lungs. I didn’t do it but, hey, the rest of the place is empty so you might as well, right?
Kidding aside, I will scream, and possibly cry, if our flight is delayed. But I will do it internally, because I know everyone else will be feeling the same way. I want to see my family, dammit!