Monday, July 14, 2008

I survived the rest of the conference. I even made some connections; perhaps even a friend or two. I just don't understand why I get myself so worked up about the prospect of having to talk to people, especially people who share a common career obsession. It's really never that bad. I am actually capable of basic human communication, often in a way that doesn't make me sound like a completely dull, unfunny idiot.

Nonetheless, by the time I got to the airport in D.C., I was very ready not to talk to anyone else. I just wanted to get on a plane and get back to my house, where I could lock myself away from others. The bus from the conference center got me to National at about 2:30. My flight wasn't until 7:20. I had hopes of trying to get a seat on an earlier flight, but there were no earlier flights. So I just had to sit and wait.

I waited at a bar for about an hour, but after seeing that my one little vodka lemonade cost $11.45, I decided that drinking away the afternoon wasn't such a great idea. I got a sandwich. I sent some text messages. I paced a lot (patience is not one of my virtues). Around 6, I got up to use the bathroom in anticipation of boarding soon, as I refuse to use the plane bathrooms. It was only upon getting up and looking at the monitors that I learned our flight departure had been delayed by an hour and a half. No announcement was ever made.

Eventually, we saw that the departure time moved back another half an hour. Again, no announcement on my particular flight. I did start hearin ominous announcements about other flights, telling of delays and even cancellations due to weather in the Washington area. It did rain heavily for about 20 minutes and I saw some incredibly fast-moving and very dark, scary clouds fly by. But I also saw planes taking off. How bad could it be?

Around 8:30, we got an announcement that we would soon see a plane pulling into our gate, but we shouldn't get our hopes up as that wasn't our plane. It was the poor Columbus flight that had pushed back from the gate about two hours earlier. They had apparently been sitting on the runway all that time and were now giving up on taking off. A plane-load of harried passengers ran off, all hoping to beat the others to the ticket counters to re-book flights after the official decision to cancel the Columbus flight. They didn't know they would all be running back onto that plane in about 2 hours when the Columbus flight was back on.

Around 10, they finally started giving us some actual information about our flight. Our plane had yet to leave Burlington, VT. The concern then became not that our plane would never arrive, but that our crew would not be able to continue on our flight because their service hours would get past the limit. Finally around 10:20, our gate agent told us the plane had left Vermont and should be landing in about an hour. She promised they would get us and our luggage all loaded as quickly as possible, aiming for a departure time of 11:54. Only 4 and a half hours late. Only 11 hours after I got to the airport.

Sure enough, a plane arrived at the gate around 11:20. They had us all on by 11:40. The flight attendants were a little surly. They had no blankets or pillows. But they had us in the air by midnight. My hometown airport had our luggage at baggage claim very quickly. Miraculously, we were not the last flight expected in, even though it was 1:30, well past the airport's bed time. The parking bus guy took me right to my car and put my suitcase in the trunk. I somehow managed to stay fully awake and alert for the 45 minute drive home.

I stumbled into my house, wanting only to take off my shoes and collapse into bed. In the dark, though, I didn't notice at first the little bundle of (very short) fur that had stealthily made its way to my side. She didn't do the usual run-around-the-house, can't-contain-my-excitement dance. But the little pup was obviously overjoyed to see her mommy. I climbed into bed and she followed, curling up as close as she could.

I didn't even sleep that much, but it's amazing how just lying in bed, SO on one side, pup on the other, can make me feel so much better.

And in case you were wondering, hell no, I ain't going to work today!

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