Monday, February 21, 2011

Are We There Yet: The Rest of the Story

se·quel /ˈsikwəl/ –noun
1.a literary work, movie, etc., that is complete in itself but continues the narrative of a preceding work. event or circumstance following something; subsequent course of affairs.

I know my name is not Paul Harvey and I may not be entitled to use his phrase..."and now you know the rest of the story", but honestly, the story just keeps going.

Let me take you back to the Wichita airport where we last left Jodi, Amy, and myself. We were working in the airport lounge where the mean temperature was around 50 degrees. Needless, to say, Jodi and I were missing the space heaters we keep under our desks. We knew we needed to eat supper because we wouldn't be getting to Chicago in time to eat anywhere, if we got there at all. We began scouring the limited menu for food choices and Jodi and I chose to share bbq chicken wings. I asked for a small glass of ice water and was told they only had bottled water. This seemed slightly absurd to me as I was staring at a sink with what appeared to be tap water right in front of me. Amy wanted something warm too so she asked about soup. Out! How about a warm turkey sandwich? Out! Luckily, the only other place to buy food without going back through security, had a sandwich and a panini press, so Amy got her warm turkey sandwich.

If you recall, our flight time was supposed to be 7:34 p.m., but we all had our doubts about that actually occurring. You can imagine our surprise when at 7:50 p.m. we heard the call to begin boarding flight 5876. At 8:03 the three of us were sitting in our assigned seats, properly belted in, when the captain's voice came over the cabin speaker. He informed us that we were on hold due to a ground stop in Chicago and that we had exactly 15 minutes to take off or he would "timeout", which in layman's terms meant he couldn't fly because the FAA limits the amount of hours a pilot can be in the air. About 15 minutes later, the captain came back over the intercom to tell us the bad news and the "possible" good news. He had, in fact, timed out but there was one last inbound flight that evening with a pilot who MIGHT still have flight time and be willing to turn around and fly us to Chicago. He asked us to remain seated until he knew of the other pilot's decisions. We waited with that impending feeling of doom!

As luck would have it, the other pilot was able to fly us to Chicago and after he finally arrived, the takeoff, the 140 mile per hour tailwind, and the fact that the flight was not full made for a relatively uneventful and quick trip. However, the saga wasn't over. Upon touchdown at O'Hare, we taxied a short distance and then sat.....waiting for a gate to open up. Apparently, all gates had been spoken for and the gate we had been assigned had a plane parked at it. As the clock continued to tick, it became clear we were going to sit on one tarmac or another longer than we had actually been in the air. (And lets not forget how long we had set in the Wichita terminal!) At 12:17 a.m. we finally deplaned, not at a gate, but right onto the tarmac because the plane at our assigned gate was out of commission. After wandering through O'Hare, we finally found our way to the shuttle bus area and located the appropriate bus for our hotel. At 1:00 a.m. we arrived at our hotel, still in surprisingly good humor, albeit exhausted.

Lest you think the trip was a total disaster, let me put your minds at ease. Although, Jodi and Amy wanted me to regale you with other details of our time together: the ankle deep bathtub water during each shower; the hot tub that was out of commission; and the man who cussed me out in the subway; but I will tell you, we laughed through the entire trip, including the day we spent getting to Chicago. The conference was interesting, the food was good, and Sprinkles cupcakes were FANTASTIC (twice)!!!

Postscript: We were worried about our flight home as weather seemed to be a factor in Kansas on the day of our departure. Everything went smoothly at the airport and all indications were that the flight was running on time. When we were called to board the plane, cleared the gate, walked down the ramp, and stood at the door of the plane we knew we were home free.....and then they called us back to the terminal.....what a trip!

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