Delayed, again.


The worst thing that can happen when you’re getting ready to travel is getting delayed. Actually there are worse things, but people sure act like delays are the worst. At the moment I’m waiting at the airport for my flight to leave. I’m joining my family in Chicago to finish out their spring break with a few days in the city.

The flight was supposed to leave around 7 am and it’s now 9 am. After sitting on the plane for an hour or so, we’re back in the terminal. But the details are really unimportant. What’s got me intrigued is how people are dealing with the uncertainty.

Some are pissed (like K-State head basketball coach Frank Martin). Some are acting annoyed. Some are swearing. Some are dealing with small kids. Some are spinning conspiracy theories about the real reasons the plane didn’t take off. Some have pulled out computers or smart phones. Some kids are sleeping. Some are enjoying their time with mom, dad or sibling. But most are sitting fairly quietly and waiting.

Me? I’m writing and paying attention. I would have rather slept this morning, but really, I don’t mind because I love being in airports. Or train stations. The atmosphere is vibrant, full of endless possibilities. It always feels like I’m taking the first step on a journey to a different reality.

My favorite travel delay happened in Atlanta in 2004 at the beginning of a Red Cross disaster relief assignment. Several hundred people were brought to Atlanta to prepare to deploy to Florida but we had to wait for one of the many hurricanes that battered the state that year. You’d think that after three days hanging out in a hotel we’d be stir crazy. Some were. But a few of us decided to make the most of it and had a great time talking, telling jokes, and getting to know each other. It turned in to a real bonding experience and I still keep in touch with a few of the people I met.

So, for me, having to wait and wait and wait is like that old 7-Up commercial (or was it Sprite?) with the guy crawling thru the desert and when he reaches an oasis asks for saltines to prolong the anticipation. Once I enter the stream of travelers, I don’t mind waiting. In fact, pass me the saltines.