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Traveling Mercies

October 20, 2017

After four long days (full-speed from 6 am to 10 pm every day) at a work meeting, I was burnt to a nubbin and ready to go home on a Friday afternoon. All that stood between my and my comfy chair in California was a taxi ride, check-in, airport security and a 1900 mile, 5 hour flight. Oh, and a 90 minute drive home. Ok, kind of a lot of stuff.

The Lyft driver was very nice, up until the point I wanted him to drop me at my actual terminal, which he had missed. He refused to go around (“It takes a long time, like 5 minutes!”), so he dropped me 3 terminals down from where I belonged and I schlepped. It was of course under construction, a holiday corn maze of plywood and duct tape and cables.

When I went to check in with Delta, there was a problem with my flight. A problem I don’t want to talk about because it was all my fault. A problem created by not being able to tell the difference between AM and PM. Yes, I my flight was at 6 am and I arrived at the airport at 2 pm. While I was trying to get this sorted, someone set off a piercing, 95-decibel alarm that no one seemed to know how to turn off. It went on, minute after minute, everyone just looking around like stunned mullets.

I stood there thinking I was probably going to have to pay something like $1500 out of my own pocket to get home. Then I remembered my company travel office. The alarm thankfully shut off. I called the travel office, and 15 minutes and a $75 change fee later, I was in possession of a seat back to California.

While I was on the phone, I was smushed in a corner of the terminal with some potted plants, a German family of four, and an elderly couple. We were adjacent to the Lufthansa check-in, which wasn’t open. A young man came out and began to carefully arrange the stanchions and belts that made up the pre-counter maze. He arranged and arranged. He removed belts, straightened them, and put them back. He moved stanchions an inch one way, then an inch back. He lined everything up. He adjusted. He re-lined.

It was such a lengthy performance and so precise that I began wondering “I know the Germans have a reputation for precision – is this that, or OCD?” Then I looked over and the German family and the elderly couple were also staring with barely concealed glee at the young man’s determination to make a perfect grid-like maze. He went on and on. And on.

All of us began glancing at each other and glancing sideways at him, as if to ask each other silently “Are you seeing this craziness?” We began bonding in our wonderment, which made an otherwise isolating airport seem less lonely. We began to chuckle, then laugh, then guffaw. And all that time, the young man never glanced our direction.

I had to go to security, or I might have gotten to see if he ever opened the sales desk. For all I know, he might still be there.


One Comment
  1. dltolley permalink
    October 21, 2017 08:49

    Finding the humour unites us all!

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