Archive for May 11th, 2010

A few days ago, I recounted our anxieties during a four hour delay as we sat on the tarmac and waited at the gate for our flight from Honolulu to Dulles via San Francisco to lift off and head out. In that time span, we encountered a cargo mix up, a change in cabin crew, and an unusually officious Chief Steward in the Business Class section who wouldn’t permit my traveling companion in Economy Plus Class to move on up to the vacant seat beside me.

We finally roared down the runway, headed for San Francisco and our connecting flight to Dulles. To our dismay but not to our surprise, the connecting flight had long since departed San Francisco by the time we landed.  What were we going to do? We pondered a few alternatives.

We knew we would arrive in San Francisco after midnight. And we knew, or thought we knew, that the next flight to Dulles departed around seven a.m., arriving at Dulles in the afternoon, too late for a scheduled Mother’s Day dinner.

And, the short interval between our arrival and the next flight to Dulles made it impractical to reserve a hotel or motel room in any one of about a thousand establishments around the airport. Plus, leaving the airport’s premises would mean a repeat security check when we returned, which is okay in the interests of assuring our national security but which can be a royal pain in that well known bodily location where pain usually resides in times of troubles.

We had thus resigned ourselves to resting the best we could on a bench or on the floor in the terminal, provided that the terminal remained open overnight. Fortunately, our choice of alternatives became moot when we were informed by the agent that we were indeed in luck. A delayed flight would arrive shortly from Dulles and after 30 minutes or so, the plane would return to Dulles.  And, wonder of wonder, seats were available, good seats in fact. My buddy had his choice of several window seats and I chose my usual isle seat.

And if that weren’t fortunate enough, the middle seat in my row was empty and a young lady occupied the window seat. Throughout the flight, she helped me locate the movable arm rest, various buttons on the television console, and the light switch, which I couldn’t see well in the dim light because my eyes were still adjusting after my cataract surgery. She was super-duper all round nice.

But before we learned about our good fortune and boarded the plane, we stood in line mulling our options and chatting generally about the things people chat about while standing in lines at airports. At one point, the guy in front of us chimed in and we learned that he was on his way to the Gulf Coast for a job with an environmental company with a contract to clean up after the recent catastrophic oil spill.

Our new “standing-in-a-line friend,” we learned, was married with five children, one of them a newborn son. He had recently lost his job and the Gulf Coast cleanup was the only work he could find. He wanted to remain with his family but he needed to support them even if it meant an extended stay in Louisiana. I empathized with the poor guy, but there was nothing I could do but offer my best wishes.

Finally, we finished our work at the counter, boarded an Airbus Number Something or Other, and took off for Dulles. It was well after one a.m. on Sunday morning, Mother’s Day. If we made our appointed Mother’s Day dinner, it would be by the hair of our chinney chin chins.

I’ll cover our arrival at Dulles and the hour and a half drive to our final destination in the Third Installment. In later installments, I’ll write a few words about my impressions of various aspects of the trip, the people we met and the evolution of their clothing and mannerisms from casual to uptight as we moved from West to East.

See ya.


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