Five Hours

Three days in Albany at a Writing Conference for teachers — a wonderful opportunity to share ideas for ten whole hours with third and fourth grade teachers. A luxury of time. Enjoyed every minute. Even arriving at the airport early was a welcome event — new book by Anna Quindlen, Rise and Shine, time for dinner. Uh oh. Delay. Oh well, what’s another hour? And then that hour turns into three, four, more hours. The only travelers left at the gate are those who are headed home — the missed connectors are all rebooked for tomorrow. The holiday travelers went back home for the night. The rest of us know the score. How long has the plane been on the tarmac? Can’t go over 3 hours or they have to turn back. How long has the crew be on duty? What time will they max out? We are all weary, one deranged woman is screaming at the desk clerk while the rest of us roll our eyes. We don’t care about the food vouchers or if they want to charge us for blankets, we just want to get home.
Many of us wired to outlets, eyes too tired to read, minds to spent to think. We are now a community. We collectively groan as each delay is announced and the warning is made every 10 minutes to not leave our bags unattended and then we watch each other’s stuff as we take turns leaving our bags unattended.
Finally, it is announced that the plane has left Newark and will arrive in 25 minutes. The community cheers. But wait . . . could it be? Yes! Storms in Cleveland. Any minute we will board the plane not knowing if we will face the same fate as the last passengers, stranded on a tarmac until the weather clears. What we do know is that the crew will max out at 1:00AM and it is a 1.25 hour flight west.
At the conference we talked about the importance of leisure time to foster writing — but what good is leisure time when eyes are tired and dry and brains are mush?

Image compliments of Go there and buy this guy’s stuff — he is more than a little twisted and totally amazing.

Update: Mechanical difficulties. This is a phrase you never want to hear after being seated on an airplane. And they didn’t mean the overhead light above my seat that didn’t work either. They meant the de-icer on the left wing. So the airline had to bring a maintenance crew in at 10PM and fix it — we didn’t take off until 12:30 AM arriving at CLE at 2:00AM. I don’t know why I am even recording this story — it is so common. A five hour delay. Ho hum.

What’s five hours? We get almost 5 of those segments everyday. I can wait for a plane for five hours, but I couldn’t bike for five hours. It’s a short time to sleep, a long time to stand. Five hours would be a short work shift, but a very long time to not work during that shift. Five hours is a time period that has been on my mind lately.

I was seated in the same seat, 3A, that I was seated in as I flew back from Atlanta after receiving the call 3 months ago that Stephie was beyond critical and in crisis. Three months ago today. The window of the airplane was like a movie screen to me last night — a series of tragic images reflected in the cloudy night sky.

One response to “Five Hours”

  1. kathy says:

    Your poetic mind pulls traumatic associations together in that airplane window.

    I hate being delayed too but I've never been that unlucky – my delay has never been more than two hours. When I book cheap flights it's a stressful experience. They string together several connecting flights & it's hard not to worry about delays.

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