thirteen hours in the car vs. a thirty minute jaunt and a direct flight home.
seemed like a no brainer at the time.
next time, think about it a little longer. key factor: do you have to go through newark, new jersey?
if the answer is no: then fly . . . fly free and fast. if it’s yes: then drive. no distance is too far, no fast food to disheartening.
ignore this advice and you’d better be ready to meet well-that-depends-wendy, the low-talking, low-emotion, baltimore flight attendant whose answer to every questions was, you guess it, “well, that depends.” both the flight leaving baltimore and the one we needed to catch in newark were listed as “possibly delayed” with no real details in sight. we asked wendy for some advice.
“will we make our connection in newark?”
“well, that depends on the meaning of the word possibly.”
“should i keep my bag with me so that it doesn’t get deserted?”
“well, that depends on the temperament of the baggage handlers.”
“what does it mean when you stare blankly at me like that as i try to solve this travel quandary?”
“well, that depends on which side of my face you’re examining.”
instead of one answer, we had several lovely options with indecisive end results. so, in typically un-barnhart fashion, we made a quick decision and stuck with it. we decided to keep the bag with us, check it at the gate, and hope they didn’t find our plus-3 oz. hair product as we went through security. we figured a night in newark and a direct flight home would be better than flying through houston to get to nashville in the morning. seriously, who makes up these flight routes?
two hours later, we discovered who made the flight routes. air. traffic. control. before this trip, these were not dirty words. now? i don’t use them lightly.
our flight out was delayed an hour because of what air traffic control called “high volumes.” when we got on the plane at last, we sat on the runway for almost an hour, once actually starting our take-off before pulling out due to a confusing message from, you guess it, air traffic control. we finally got in the air, 30 minutes after our connecting flight was to have left newark, and i asked the flight attendant – not wendy, thank goodness – her best bet on our chances that newark was as backed up as baltimore. i told her we were trying to get to nashville.
“nashville? honey, we’re going to nashville.”
and thus the skies parted. actually the skies were dark and there was lightning in the distance. but in my stress-ridden traveling mind, the skies parted, and there was hope. we would make our flight home. to sleep in our own bed, and not the airport terminal.
as the thought of home soaked in a bit, i thought of my friend ashley who stayed in an isolated terminal for days on end, with two young boys and no food, trying to get to her husband in germany. our travel misadventure seemed a mere hiccup compared to that kind of unending displacement. we got to soar safely past the brewing thunderstorm, enjoyed the beauty of the talking lights from our sleepy seats.
traveling is an adventure. you eat random, overpriced snacks. you hang on every word coming from the muffled speakers above you. you wonder, again and again, if you’ll ever get home.
and the answer is usually . . .
“well . . . that depends.”