“Attention. There is a slight delay in your 8:00 pm flight. New time is 8:30.”
No problem. I’ll just be here now, enjoy some time to read my book.
“Attention. New time is now 9:00.”
“Attention. New time is 9:30.”
Hmm. Feeling a little hungry. Think I’ll search out some food.
“Attention. New time is 9:45.”
I guess I’ll write a little blog post about my food search.
“Attention. Your flight has been cancelled. New time is 8:30—tomorrow morning.”
Why? Because for whatever reason for the delay (they never told us), it meant that the crew had worked the maximum hours allowed bv the FAA and must complete a mandatory period of rest before departing. Well, I’m happy they get to rest, but what about me? Guess I’ll stand in line to ask how United will get a hotel for me.
“Okay,”said the person, “I’ll meet you all downstairs to rebook flights and book a room.”
Some 25 of us go downstairs, line up— and there we stand for one hour without any of the two attendants letting us know what’s taking so damn long for a simple hotel booking. I was number eight in line and didn’t move one inch in a full hour. Breathe. Be here now.
But my body and nervous system were not with the “be here now” program, accepting it all with equanimity. Finally I just walked straight up and said, with ill-concealed frustration, “Can you just let us know what’s going on and why it’s taking so long?” No one answered. “I’ll take that as a no.”
The line began to move, though still way outpaced by any snail. When I finally got up front at 11:00 pm, the man printed out a hotel voucher and then had me take it to the other woman, who put it in a pile and called the hotel, asking for my name, address, phone number and e-mail to give them. Meanwhile, seven fellow passengers were ready to go waiting for the shuttle and when the shuttle came, she was still talking to the damn hotel giving them my information. “Please let the shuttle know to wait for me,” I implored and then stood there watching it drive away.
Be. Here. Now.
“Oh, it’s only five minutes away. The driver will be right back for you and the others (another seven people).”
Tick-tock-tick-tock. Five minutes, Ten minutes, Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. By now it’s 11:30 and I’ve been at this airport for six straight hours. Ten more minutes and the shuttle comes. Then another line at the hotel to check in. The person in front of me deciding to buy some food before at the counter before completing the check in. Tick tock.
At five minutes past midnight, I finally fall into bed. To awaken at 6 the next morning. Back on the shuttle. Back to the airport. Back through security, who asks for the new ticket they didn’t give me and no one at the United counter. Calls the supervisor who approves and lets me through. Through the security machine and my body image on the screen is lit up in five places, including “sensitive” areas. The guard has to tell me where he’s going to touch me and pat my down. Trying to breathe through the echoes of my impatience with machines that don’t work and systems of dealing with problems that are as broken as the problems themselves.
So now it’s 8:06 am in the morning and they’re telling me I probably need to check my carry on bag. Oh, and did I mention that my rebooked flight from Washington is three hours after I arrive?
If this is a test to see my capacity to be fully in the moment, to be wholly here now instead of wishing I was somewhere else then (like my home), I confess. I’ve failed miserably. Here’s hoping I can get home today. And then, finally, I can be here now.