all day long

Stranded at Terminal A of Reagan National airport all day today, because they cancelled my 6:30am flight to Atlanta. Yes, that meant I got up at 4:30am so that I could save a few dollars and metro’d in. The o-dark-thirty started with a foreboding misty drizzle, and it’s stay dreary for hours.

There I stood in line for hours to check-in for AirTran. The line was at least 50 people long. We didn’t move for at least half an hour. I was sandwiched between two extroverted women, so at least there were conversations and sight for sore eyes, half-glazed.

My departure time of 6:30am came and went. The Latino woman was a young mother of two, occasionally on business travel, and taking online courses at Harvard Law. Wildly energetic, and gets bored on vacation by the third day, like I do. Even thought I’d gotten more sleep than the two of them, they did most of the talking. I like that.

7:30am came and went. The younger woman was in college at UC Davis, studying something called exercise biology. I had her hold my place in line so I could get my morning hit of Starbucks — at least there was one just beyond the ticket counter. A grande caramel macchiato, for those of you keeping score. I got both of my female companions a bottle of water. I had offered her a better drink, but that’s all she wanted. The Latino lawyer wannabe and I tried to impress the young college gal about ultra running, the segment we both saw on 60 Minutes last night. It’s something like an uphill 100-mile annual run, pushing the limits of human endurance (and sanity.) She was too tired to be impressed.

8:30am came and went. I’d finished my grande by now. The lawyer wannabe kicked into wilder conversations. She was with a group of 20 guys and gals who larked on a bet to get their tongues pierced based on the outcome of a Wizards vs. Lakers game. The women lost, and she had gotten her tongue pierced. She said it wasn’t painful at first, but days after it sure was. I’m not about to find out. The conversation veered into drinking, drug use (people they knew, not themselves), tattoos. We schemed about raising a big stink to get a first class upgrade or free flight, but we’re all talk and no guts to turn up the heat.

We get to the counter, each of us with our own agent. The lawyer wannabe is banished to a flight out of BWI. (She shouldn’t have told them that she had a car.) The college gal gets traded to another airline. I get stuck with a much later flight departing at 4:00pm, with a consolation prize of two meal vouchers and a $25 discount on a future flight. A flashback of what Tom Hanks’ character was feeling in The Terminal. Nope, I’m not flying AirTran again if I can help it.

I decided to go through security to see what I could do on the other side. While in line to unload my laptop, I saw a coffee spill at the table and onto the floor. Must’ve been a venti. The center of gravity on those are just too high, unstable, begging to be spilt.

Six hours to wait in Terminal A, with no internet connection anywhere. It was such a dreary day outside to be roaming by foot, and I did not want to get back onto Metro. My call to ground troop was unheeded (called up a friend in nearby Arlington to get me from the airport and back so I could WiFi at his home, but he didn’t return my voicemail.)

The hours went by soon enough: some intermittent reading (Howard Gardner’s Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds), 4 power naps, consumed 2 meals via vouchers, at least I’ve got my laptop. Oh, salient quote from page 20 for the postmodern types: Stories and theories are by their nature propositional. Oh?! Maybe our so-called deconstructing propositions is more about replacing one set of propositions for another, and not so mysterious and irrational.

The counter guy is announcing that our scheduled departure is being delayed by air traffic control to 5:15pm. [this blog entry was written at 3:45pm; posted after I got online at 10pm, after a quick dinner and check-in to motel, after I got my rental car, after I finally landed in Atlanta, after another 45 minute delay on the tarmac, after boarding]

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