August 20th, 2001


Fear and Loathing in Midway Airport, Concourse C

The following was written in my notebook yesterday afternoon.

"I have been in Concourse C of Chicago's Midway airport for 5 hours. Our flight, which was supposed to depart at 3:45pm, is currently slated to leave at 8:30, although that is in doubt. [More on this later; I didn't get to my apartment until 1:20am.]

I don't think I've ever needed to be on a plane as much as I do right now. If we're not moving in a New York direction soon, I might lose my mind.

The wedding itself was fun - pretty much what I expected it to be. I'm glad I went, if that counts for anything. Chicago, or at least the little that I saw of it, is a beautiful city, clean and vibrant and mellow and really quite a wonder to look at.

Fucking airplanes. When you've got a car, you can leave any time you want. Aside from the claustrophobia, vertigo, funny-smelling air, and unavailability of medical attention in case I have a heart attack, it's this total loss of control - NOBODY CAN DO TO NEW YORK RIGHT NOW, SORRY, CAN YOU WAIT A WHILE LONGER?

I haven't slept since Wednesday.

I haven't had a cigarette since Friday morning, and that's pretty f-ing cool - it's just been cold turkey and sleepless nights. And now hours of waiting in an airport.

GODDAMN this sucks. I've spent way too much time here, for someone who is so mortified of flying.

I'm so BORED. and TIRED. But time is passing, however slowly, and I know I won't be able to REALLY SLEEP until I'm in my bed in Queens. So there's nothing to do. I've got 2 books and 2 newspapers, but I don't want to read them until I'm on the plane - I need distraction when I'm in the air. So I sorta hafta be bored right now. Self-sacrifice."

* * * * * * * * *

So, yes, it took me 12 hours to get from Chicago to New York City yesterday. Where do I begin?

Before I start ranting, let me cut right to the chase here - ATA airlines SUCKS ASS.

We arrived at Midway at 1-ish - my family is incredibly anal about punctuality, which is something I'm glad I picked up, by the way. We checked in our luggage, and made our way to the waiting area. At this point I was much calmer than I was on Friday, when we were preparing to go to Chicago - I had been a pathetic, quivering heap of nerves and excuses, whereas yesterday I was a lot calmer, basically because I NEEDED to get back to NYC, and I was willing to get on a plane to get there. Our flight was at 3:45, so we had plenty of time to get situated, buy newspapers, etc.

When we got to the waiting area, the sign said that the flight was DELAYED, but they couldn't give us a concrete reason why, nor could they give us an ETD. At 3:45, they announced that because of bad weather between Chicago and NYC, the flight had been CANCELLED.

We moved quickly to the Accomodation counter, where a line had instantaneously formed that seemingly stretched out for miles. We were eventually booked on the 7pm flight, and when we asked if the weather had improved, they didn't know what we were talking about - apparently, the 3:45 flight was canceled because of MECHANICAL FAILURE. They gave us $8 vouchers for the nearby food establishment, where we ate some interesting dinner-type food.

At this point, my nerves were beginning to crack. Because aside from my whole airplane anxiety, I had also quit smoking on Friday, and what was left of my nicotine withdrawl started to really kick in. And I was wrestling with the wierd irony at play, which I wrote about incoherently in the journal entry above, namely: I hate planes and I hate flying, but I needed to get back to NYC, and a plane was the only way I was gonna get there; I had resigned myself to accepting this fate, but then the flight kept getting delayed, which was just driving me crazy.

Further waiting, delays, etc.

The real kicker of the story, though, is when we actually boarded the plane, which wasn't until about 9pm. We're all aboard, safety belts buckled, overhead compartment closed, tray tables in upright and locked position, etc., when we get an announcement from the cabin that went, and I quote:

"Hey everybody, we're sorry we've kept you waiting for so long. Unfortunately, I've got some bad news for you - we don't have a captain to fly the plane at the moment. Apparently the captain for this flight didn't know he was the captain, and we can't get a hold of him. So we're gonna try to get another captain as soon as we can, which should hopefully be just another 30 minutes or so."

Keep in mind that I'm doing everything I can to maintain a semblance of composure at this point. My heartrate, already in overdrive from nicotine withdrawl and plane anxiety, is just off the charts. I'm all buckled in, and I can feel my veins getting ready to explode. My mom, bless her heart, is doing everything she can to keep us all upbeat, and especially trying to calm me down.

Finally, at 9:30, we take off. And the flight, while turbulent at times, goes relatively smoothly. I'm flying through crossword puzzles and making jokes with my mom and stepfather as to what ATA stands for - Atrocious Transport, Always is a good one. Halfway through the flight, the captain announces that we should be landing close to midnight, but hopefully earlier "so that we get there before the airport closes."

The rest of the evening isn't worth going into tremendous detail - we landed, waited 45 minutes for our bags, and then I waited another 40 minutes to catch a cab, and my cabbie didn't speak English and didn't quite know how to get me to my apartment, and I'm kind of amazed that I did.

The good news is that I actually slept last night - for about 5 hours. I did have to go to work today, of course.

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eilonwy posted this quiz, which is located here. What's funny about this quiz is that a friend of mine gave me this quiz about 6 years ago, in person, and the results are very similar and accurate, except for a few things.

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According to this page, Mike Myers might be gearing up to do a Pink Panther movie. He's also apparently working on Austin Powers 3, but still... a MM Pink Panther? I might just die.
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In my sleep-deprived haze, I spent a few hours exploring the "Memories" feature on LJ, which I'd always wondered about. It's actually quite useful, if you're uptight about proper documentation.

Has anyone heard the new Beta Band record? I'm about this close [<-->] to buying it after work. That and the new Built To Spill.

Apparently, Bad Scrabble Hands is getting around. jongre has discovered a lot of sites making fun of us. Hell, we got our first piece of hate mail the other day, which is pretty hilarious, when you think about it.
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