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The Long Way Home

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I meant to post this blog entry last week, but, as usual, life gets in the way…school, work, personal life, etc.

So I attended the midwinter conference of the American Libraries Association organization, that took place in Chicago from January 30 – February 2 (Super Bowl weekend ugh!). It was an uneventful conference. I gave a few presentations which I thought went very well. I snagged a few (umm, 12 or 15 or 20) galleys. They just seemed to jump in my hand or in a bag that I was carrying, it was awful all those books and the authors signing them, just attacking me like that. Even watching the Super Bowl in the hotel lobby was fun, as the blizzard raged outside.

Monday, February 2, however, was when all the fun began. As early as 7:30 a.m., my 11:30 a.m. flight was scheduled to be on time. I kept looking and looking at the airlines app making sure. And yet, at 9:30, while I was on the shuttle going to the airport, the airline canceled my direct flight to Regan National (DCA) airport and rebooked me on a flight with a layover in Buffalo to DCA. Ugh! Seriously! I’m already a nervous flyer, especially during take offs and landings. I watch too many movies and documentaries where the plane crashes during the take off or the landing. Yeah, I’m that girl.

I was able to get a hotel room about 2 miles from the airport, at the government hotel per diem (I was reimbursed for the room for the additional night.), thank goodness. Unfortunately, the hotel was in the middle of nowhere, so I could only eat at the hotel’s bistro. It was an early night and my flight was scheduled to leave at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.

I couldn’t sleep, fearing I would oversleep and miss the shuttle to the airport. I was waking up every hour and finally, I was just awake from about 4:30 Chicago time. I checked out of the hotel, hopped aboard the shuttle, and made it to the airport with time to spare. But as things would happen (again), the pilot for my flight to Buffalo was late arriving to O’Hare. My flight to Buffalo was pushed back 10 minutes and I would still be able to make my connecting flight to DCA at 11:30. Except that the pilot was more than 10 minutes late and when he did arrive, he wanted to get the plane de-iced. Okay, it was pushing it, but I could still make my connecting flight. Only once we got in the air about 9:00, an hour late, a passenger took sick and we had to make a medical emergency landing in Cleveland. I didn’t know Cleveland even had an airport. (No offense to anyone from Cleveland.) Despite the understanding of getting someone the medical care that they need, I was frustrated beyond reason.

Okay…despite the diversion, I will admit to a little relief, my seat was cold as f–k. I was sitting in row 2, a single seat just as you enter the plane. I could see and hear the pilot and the co-pilot when the door to the cockpit was open. I was almost right across from an emergency door and cold air was seeping in. And my feel was so cold and almost numb. So while we were waiting for the pilot to fill out additional paperwork so that we could leave, there was heat and my feet were warm.

So back to the story, needless to say, this emergency landing just pushed all hopes to make my connecting flight into the trash. In fact, we landed in Cleveland at 11:30, just as my flight was leaving Buffalo. So we finally made our way to Buffalo and landed about 12:30. Now let me go back just a bit, the airline took my carry-on luggage as a part of their valet service. And I was suppose to get it back when I got off the plane. Y’all know what happens next, don’t you? That’s right…due to weather conditions in Buffalo, my checked bag would be returned to me at baggage claim. So I had to leave the secured area of the airport to retrieve my carry-on. And go back through security with my carry-on bag. Ugh!

The good thing about the Buffalo airport is that it isn’t big. And the trip to retrieve my luggage and back through security wasn’t too bad. I even was able to stop at the ticket counter to get my board pass to DCA, no one in line much to my surprise.

The airline booked me on the next flight to DCA at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. I camped out in the airport’s food court for 3 1/2 of the 4 1/2 hours that I had to wait. I was a little nervous, though, when I was the first to arrive at the boarding gate. But slowly airline staff and other passengers started to trickle to the gate. But my concern returned when a couple with a crying toddler in tow stopped at my gate. OMG!! I was getting ready to be stuck on a plane for 1 1/2 hours with a f–king crying toddler. But when we boarded the plane, the flight attendant gave the little crying girl some potato chips. Thank goodness for that!

After the resolution of the crying toddler, the last leg of my journey home was pleasant. I even had a nice view of the sunset…although the guy sitting across the aisle thought I was looking at him as looked out his window. And even though I hate landing at DCA from the side of the 14th Street Bridge (does anyone remember the January 13, 1982 plane crash? obviously I do even though it was over 30 years ago.), it was a smooth landing.

It’s taken me two weeks to get that extra day back in Chicago. Between work and school and personal commitments, that extra day caused so much trouble. And yet, I’m going to continue to travel in the winter, just hope and pray for better travels.

It’s taken me just about two weeks to recuperate from that extra day in Chicago, between work and school and personal commitments. I feel a lot better and rested now. It was an adventure getting home, but I’m going to continue to travel in the winter and just hope for better travels.

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