The day that time forgot

Everybody who travels has stories like these, but not everyone who travels has a blog with which to share them.

I was in Seattle on business last week and was scheduled to come home to Dallas mid-afternoon Friday. I got to the airport in plenty of time and was relaxing near gate A‑8 when a crowd started to gather around the desk. My rapier quick mind assumed something was up, so I meandered that way and discovered that my flight — and others to Dallas — had been cancelled due to severe storms in North Texas.

Okay, I thought. I have a First Class ticket, so I’ll just get on the next flight. Well, it turns out that wasn’t until 5:35pm Saturday, over 24 hours later. I did what everybody else did and attempted to make arrangements with other airlines, but I ended up at the airport Hilton.

What exactly does one do for 24 hours under such circumstances? I should add that I was exhausted from the trip and out of clean clothes — a risk of “traveling light.” Restless, agitated and exhausted, I found I couldn’t sleep. Moreover, a group of Africans occupied most of the rooms on my floor and they had a serious party going on. They also chose the hallway to make cellphone calls, so even my ear plugs didn’t work. I was in that state where you get between asleep and awake, so I never really got any rest.

Saturday morning came, and guess what? There is nothing but infomercials and bad cartoons on Saturday morning television. It was raining, so I couldn’t just go for a walk. Work, I thought. I can work. Nope. I had no juice whatsoever. So I relived the last few years of my life by looking at pictures on my computer. That took an hour. I played computer games. I went to the gift shop several times.

Mostly, I just got mad.

Checkout was noon, so that meant a lovely afternoon at the airport. At least I could watch people there. A woman was tossing a rubber football with her son. She threw like a girl. A teenager dressed like a hooker read Cosmo in the corner. Two young boys raced back and forth on the escalator moving sidewalk. A man in a yellow jacket slept on one of the benches.

I can’t remember how many times I heard the woman say not to leave your carry on items unguarded.

I walked this way and that. I bought one day’s wireless service from at&t and checked mail. Nobody writes on Saturday. I browsed the gift shops and bought some Starbucks. I ate a cookie. I went back to the gate and the woman was still throwing like a girl.

My heart sank when they announced that my flight was delayed 45 minutes. I couldn’t even let my mind get near ANOTHER night at the Hilton. Imagination can be an awful thing sometimes.

Eventually, I got home to my dog and my comfy bed. I realize today that I completely missed the 31st of March, 2007.

(Pan to Rod Serling) Limbo, they say, is like purgatory, perhaps worse than hell itself. For Terry Heaton, there is indeed no place like home — returning from a day like no other — a day that time forgot — a tormenting journey into — the Twilight Zone.

Comments

  1. That sounds like Dante’s Limbo alright! Just awful Terry! I couldn’t even find myself giving a little giggle while reading that. I think we’ve all had a day or two like that in our lives that just absolutely sucks, everybody sucks, everything sucks — just close your eyes and get through it. And the thing about it is, the clock just ticks slower than any other day in history. 60 seconds feels like 10 minutes. Those days make me think long and hard about Einstein’s theory of relativity. Then again Terry, it could always be worse. Good to have you back from Limbo! Keep up the good work.

  2. It’s stories like this that remind me of something that a colleague of mine said: “Business travel is overrated.”

    The delays, the waiting in line at airports and hotels, the bad food, the downtime, the uncomfortable beds, cramped seats on airplanes, time zones, etc. etc. Videoconferencing doesn’t look so bad after all…

    Thanks for the writing! Really enjoy the blog!

  3. Ron Mexico says

    El Oh El.

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