Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Will Go Home

Your mind wanders during late-night vigils around airport departure signs.

The schedule seems to be written in something resembling ink, but Mother Nature possesses that digital eraser, and she's not afraid to use it. She can go from "on time" to "delayed" in seconds flat, and she doesn't seem to give a rat's ass who's life she sends into chaos.

"Try it again," she says. "Only this time, show your work."

It's snowing as I write this–the first real dump of the winter for a city that has seen much worse, and will again, I'm sure. But it's enough to throw off our timing here in the human realm, where clocks and scheduled departures and moving walkways and Homeland Security threat levels (it's at "orange" right now, in case you're interested) depict our every move. We can show up at the airport with plenty of time to spare only to learn that all we really possess on days like this is time. And a credit card.

But the bar is long since closed, and the moving walkways carry no cargo this time of night. The airport is dormant and unnaturally quiet. I know that, in a matter of hours, it will spring to life once more. My challenge–should Mother Nature choose to cooperate–is to get the hell out of here before that happens.

A dormant airport on a snowy night in Denver.
This is the kind of thing that happens now and then to frequent travelers. It beats hours on the tarmac, I suppose–the hibernating concourse is actually somewhat pleasant. It beats the dreaded "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but we have to return to the gate" announcement.

I've been pretty lucky over the years. Sure, I've had the occasional night like this one, where, realistically, I'm probably here until the weather clears a bit. I've been a plane that circled Boise for an hour because it couldn't get its landing gear to close. I've also been forced to turn back with our destination in sight because a combination of low fog and an obsolete turbo-prop prohibited landings with such questionable visibility. I've been in turbulence so rough that overhead bins popped open and spewed their contents all over terrified passengers.

I'll take tonight for what it is. Mother Nature wins one, now and then. Good for her.

4 comments:

  1. she needs all the wins she can get. safe travels home.

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  2. Dustin was delayed last night at DIA as well. A good introduction to Colorado for us. -stephanie

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  3. Whaaat! Chris, you should have told me you needed to leave in a hurry. I could of postponed the snow for a little while. Sorry I missed you.

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  4. Travel is SO MUCH fun.

    The only people who ever tell us that are the ones who don't travel.

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