When I booked my trip to Boston, I knew it would be crazy. Back in January I had booked a personal trip to Costa Rica. I left on a Tuesday and returned on the following Tuesday…at midnight…to Baltimore. But no worries. I would stay over in Baltimore before driving back to Richmond, or I’d drive back to Richmond and sleep in the next day.
But then I found out I had to go to Boston for work. The very next day after I returned from Costa Rica.
Okay, not a huge deal. I partially packed for Boston before I set out for Costa Rica. I would get back to Baltimore, drive to Richmond, sleep in, and leave that evening for Boston. Doable.
Murphy’s Law nagged in the back of my mind. What if there was a delay? What if my car broke down in Baltimore? (The whole time in Costa Rica I worried if I left my headlights on in long-term parking; would my car battery be charged?)
This anxiety became compounded when I checked my email in Costa Rica. My adviser had emailed and asked if I could give a presentation the day I returned. I mean, technically I hadn’t taken the day off; I was supposed to be in town. So…yes?
“Timeline-wise, I’m hesitant,” I post-scripted. “If something happens on my return…”
The delays began in Costa Rica. I arrived to the airport unreasonably earlier (local buses were supposed to take two hours to arrive, but somehow I arrived in under 30 minutes) – only to find my flight had been pushed back an hour. Which, again, we are fine, Cazey. I had a four-hour layover in Miami, so this extra hour didn’t threaten my connecting flight.
Four hours later, I departed San Jose for Miami. I made it through customs with three hours to spare until the connecting flight to Baltimore. I treated myself to some Coldstone. I rolled up to my gate 50 minutes before departure time.
The original departure time was 9:20 PM. The screen flashed the departure had been pushed back to 10:10.
Okay. Slightly behind schedule. But okay.
I sat down beside an outlet only to find it didn’t work. When I turned around next, the departure time had been moved to 10:50.
I wondered at what point did I cancel my presentation. Do I email my adviser and say it’s 11 PM in Miami, I’m three hours from Baltimore, and then another three hours to Richmond, which puts my arrival at 5 AM? And you wanted me there at 8:30 AM? Lol.
But I didn’t want to cop out. It was still doable.
American Airlines informed us that our delay was due to our flight attendants flying in from Ecuador, and they arrived late and still had to go through customs. People didn’t cheer when the attendants popped up.
Get on the plane and get us out of here, I thought.
Around 11 PM, we began to board. Slightly after that estimated 10:50 PM.
We are fine, I thought to myself.
I overheard a passenger in front of me discussing the weather. Apparently, a storm was five miles north of us. Better hurry.
Other passengers debated who wanted the middle aisle. How did they have so much energy at 11 PM after a two-hour delay? Just sit down so we can leave.
And we had all decided on our seats when the pilot came on the intercom: Unfortunately, the storms had arrived. It was unsafe to leave. As if on cue, lightning blasted outside the plane.
Everything. Is. Fine.
I measured my breaths and contemplated the next eight hours of my life. We land in Baltimore at 2 AM. I drive to Richmond. I sleep two hours. Do I even sleep? I rise and give presentation. I pack for Boston. I go to Boston.
Once the storm lifted, we still had to wait for whatever amount of time for the lightning to surely be gone. You might be asking why wasn’t I napping during this whole time? Because I’m not one of those plane nappers. Maybe it was panic, maybe it was adrenaline, maybe it was just because, but I can’t do that.
Finally, a little after midnight, we took off. I closed my eyes, but never really drifted off because I had to stay alert.
We landed at 2:30 AM. Immediately I decided I could not drive to Richmond at this hour. I would die. I emailed my adviser and said, “I just landed in Baltimore (see timestamp) and am getting a hotel here. I won’t be there tomorrow/today. I’m so sorry.”
In the following ten minutes while being bussed to long-term parking, I decided paying $60 for a Motel 6 to sleep six hours was overrated. I drove to Richmond. I arrived as the sun rose on I-95. I threw my Costa Rican-soiled clothes into the washer and went to bed. My alarm sang at 9 AM. I hit snooze until 9:15 and then I dragged myself to the shower and made it to my 11:30 AM presentation. So much for that cancellation.
You’d think my troubles were over. You would think. Or maybe, yeah, ha, I would show up for my Boston flight, and there’d be a slight delay.
No, no, no.
Nooo. Nooo. Noooooooooo.
I Ubered to the Richmond airport at 6 PM for my 8 PM flight. I used self-check-in. I didn’t see the delay until my ticket was printed. Departure: 11:11 PM.
But we’re supposed to leave at 8 PM!!!!!!
EVERYTHING IS FINE.
Also LOL if you think I’m going through TSA five hours before my plane departs. The problem was, I Ubered to the airport. I paid $20 to get there. It was another $20 to go home. And another $20 to come. Far too steep to justify that.
I phoned a friend. Thank God for Liz who one day will have a blog post written about her. We grabbed dinner at Graffiato’s and then the Charm School Social Club, which is an ice cream shop on Broad St. and I’m still trying to figure out the name. They have vegan ice cream, which I love, even though I’m not vegan.
While hanging out, I kept checking my flight’s status. I prayed the delay would be undone. Maybe we’d leave at 10? What did I tell my Airbnb host Tatyana? “Dear Tatyana, I’m so sorry, but my flight has been delayed by three hours, so I’ll be arriving in the dead of night”? “Dear Tatyana, we are both victims here”?
The opposite happened. My flight jumped to 12:05 AM departure.
“No,” I audibly said.
The waiter asked if everything was all right.
No, it’s not.
Me: “Everything’s fine.”
By the time Liz dropped me back at the airport at 10 PM, the estimated departure was 12:47 AM. At this point, my prayers turned to hoping the whole flight was just canceled or rescheduled for the morning so I could go home and sleep.
Again, you may be wondering, why didn’t I just sleep there in the airport? BECAUSE I DON’T DO THAT.
I opened up my laptop and began answering my emails I had neglected while abroad. I looked up at the screen. The flight’s departure had been pushed to 12:57 AM.
Now this was too much.
Fine. The flight is delayed. Fine, it is delayed by FOUR HOURS. But you’re going to push it back to further by ten minutes? Why don’t you just add 30 seconds more? Why don’t you take my firstborn while you’re at it? Heck, here’s my kidney.
By the time I finished my emailing, the departure time was 1:11 AM.
SERENITY NOW, EVERYTHING IS FINE, DEAR GABRIEL, HELP ME, WHEN WILL I SLEEP, HELP HELP HELP, SOS
I struck up a conversation with a Hudson News employee on break. “It’s such a social experiment watching how people react to flight delays,” I observed.
“Mm, hmm.” She smacked her lips.
“How late are you here?”
“Until the last plane leaves.”
“Is that ours?”
“What’s the latest you’ve had to stay here?”
“This is the latest I’ve had to stay.”
Good to know.
She had been eating some Ukrop’s rainbow cookies. She gave me the rest as she went back to work. I paired it with my leftover Graffiato’s pizza that I had ordered some four hours ago. This dystopia I lived in…
At 1:05 AM, they started boarding us. I wrote my Airbnb host: “Hi, Tatyana, I know I told you five hours ago I would be arriving at this time, but the truth of the matter is, I am still in Richmond, and only now has salvation appeared. I write this as they load the passengers. Will I make it onboard remains to be seen. Will I be alive when I arrive also remains elusive. But pray for me. Theoretically, I will see you on the other side at 3:30 AM.”
And because you’re probably sick of reading this, that is where the story ends. I arrived to Boston at 3:30 AM. My life derailed from its infinite (2x) loop of déjà vu flight delays. Tatyana greeted (and saved) me. I slept until I awoke and finished off my Graffiato’s pizza, temperature abused and twelve hours old from the time it arrived at my table (in Richmond!!). (I don’t think the Charm School ice cream would’ve made it to Boston.)
And everything was fine in the end.