At 4:00 p.m. on Sunday we were crushed into a corner of Reagan airport, trying to board. It took over an hour later than planned. We stood in a throng of people, pussyhats and Make America Great hats side by side. I recognized a YouTube sensation - young guys were approaching her begging for selfies.
Me: Look at her. I recognize her from Trevor Noah. She's a conservative idiot. I can't remember her name.
S: Who is she?
Me: I'm not sure, but she's big. Look at her, she's gorgeous. Every middle American teenager's wet dream.
Leave it to me to find my least favorite celebrity in an airport. Tomi Lahren, I later found out on google. Luckily she boarded the plane to Salt Lake City; we were headed to Atlanta. Slower than we thought.
After we boarded, we were grounded due to bad weather in Atlanta. The pilot was nice and transparent: He walked down the aisle and took selfies with the passengers. He explained we had to de-plane due to the Passenger's Bill of Rights - they couldn't keep us on the plane more than two hours. I had developed an excruciating stomachache, the likes of which I hadn't had in over six months. I knew I just had to lay down for 30 minutes, but that wouldn't happen until 4am. I didn't know that at the time - it was only about 6:30 p.m. and we watched airport passengers hungrily devour the victory of the Atlanta Falcons over the Green Bay Packers before we boarded again.
Pilot: After we made it to the tarmac. "We are grounded again. We have to wait."
So we did. I read, all the while a knife twisting in my belly. Angry at the white privileged girl behind me who chronicled her saga as if it were hers alone loudly to her parents and friends over and over while we waited. We finally took off around 10 p.m.
When we landed in Atlanta the gate we were supposed to approach was occupied. Garnering many choice words from the captain. Grounding us for another hour before we found another gate in F. This is as far away as you can get from B, where our connection to Little Rock was.
But we walked, and we made the connection. Seems that plane was having mechanical problems, and they found another plane that promised to take off, so we waited. Took the tram, me lying down miserably on the back bench hoping for relief that never came. More waiting at the gate. Finally we boarded at 1 am. I looked at the line to the Delta help phones, 500 people deep, and at all of the overnight strays sleeping at will wherever they could. Thought I was going to be more lucky than them. I was wrong, but I didn't figure that out until 3 a.m.
They boarded us, manically, at 2 a.m. Asked and received praise and thanks, prematurely I thought at the time with an eye roll to my husband. I was right. The plane had no fuel. There was no longer staff to administer the fuel. The pilot was running up against his 14 hour flight limit. Time ran out, and he canceled the flight.
After 5 phone calls we found the last room at an airport Marriott hotel. Walked a mile to get out of the airport - the trams were dead - and took a cab to the hotel. I couldn't help noticing all the strays making camp for the night - in between the "fast" walkways. It looked like the End of Days.
Despite the angry people in the hotel - seems they were promised a room by Delta but there were none to be had - security was on hand to contain them - we made it to the last room in the large high rise. Finally I was able to relax and get over my stomachache. Fell asleep at five. Woke at nine to be put on standby for CT. Had to call in for the first time for work in over 10 years. I was chagrined. "I'm in Atlanta. Won't be there today. Couldn't catch a flight until way too late. I've rented a car and am going to drive back, so I can take my call and be there tomorrow."
"Don't worry - it's a light day. We will take care of it. Safe travels."