The sun isn’t up yet. Beyond the windows of the airport terminal, the only lights are the orange dots of building lights and the runway bulbs, lined like troops in the darkness.
Bleary-eyed people start to fill the gate areas to board flights to all corners of everywhere. I’m seated in what seems like an unnecessarily uncomfortable metal chair with only the slightest hint of a vinyl cushion, watching the world around me. My own flight has been delayed. Significantly. I’ve been rerouted and shuffled, such that my arrival in Louisville Kentucky is a full ten hours later than initially scheduled. Part of me expects a full cancelation at any time.
With four and a half hours to go until I board, I spent far too much money on coffee and reading material, but since I usually work overnight and this time of day is my ‘evening’ I’m too wide awake to sit still and read for too long. The large blonde roast from the concourse Starbucks may also have something to do with my alertness.
The gate next to mine begins to board. Folks from obviously seasoned passengers to confused-looking children clutching backpacks and carry-ons filter through the nylon-taped aisle and vanish beyond the ticket agent, who seems a bit more chipper than I am comfortable with for this time of day.
My own gate sees very little activity. No ticket agent punching keys at the computer, no line of people. We’ve got a long wait yet.
I say ‘we’ – there are two of us. Myself, and a black-clad young priest standing in a corner hunched over a tablet of some kind, a far cry from the image of the priests I remember as a kid- old, and about as likely as your average grandparent to be current with technology.
Even as I write this though, “Boarding group 5” on the flight in the neighboring gate is called, and my unknowing companion packs up his tablet, and he too disappears through the door.
I’m left alone at Gate A6. Me, my book, and my phone.
I’m not much of a flier. The last time I flew on a plane was pushing ten years ago. I have no reservations about flying, in spite of having a close friend whose father was killed in a very public plane crash a few years back. It’s just that the opportunity or need never arose.
I don’t even mind the delay. Things at work and at home have been going a thousand miles an hour for quite some time now, and this forces me to slow down. For several hours there’s nothing to do. No incidents to handle, reports to write, or various family matters to attend to. My only concern is that the damn digital marquis keeps the red letters “ON TIME” on it, instead of “CANCELED.”
True, that’s a fairly large concern, seeing as how the ticketing agent told me there isn’t much likelihood of finding alternative travel arrangements, and more troubling, I was dropped off at the airport this morning, with no scheduled transportation home until Sunday afternoon. And if this flight gets canned, I stand a fair chance of missing a good friend’s wedding… Which I am in.
Still, there’s nothing to do but wait. So that’s what I’ll do.
Next to me, the recently busy gate is now empty but for the ticket agent, who- like me, has his face buried in his phone.
My watch reads 6:20. Four hours until boarding. It may just be time to find something reminiscent of breakfast, and stare with exaggerated interest at the multitude of cultural and artistic pieces which line the garishly carpeted concourse hallways while listening to the repeated warning of not to take anyone else’s luggage on a plane with me.
So begins my day.