I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I travel quite a bit- about every two weeks or so. This is one of those things that sounds quite glamorous and worldly…until you actually have to DO it.
Today I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of being trapped in one of America’s busiest airports for four long, freezing, germy, frustrating hours. In one of the few airports with NO FREE WI-FI. OH THE OUTRAGE!! HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN IN AMERICA.
Initially, when I got off my first flight, I was thoroughly enjoying the irony. Historically, when I’ve taken this airline, I have a 90-minute layover. But United likes to keep it interesting, so my first flight is 45-75 minutes late – EVERY TIME, bringing my connection to a paltry twelve minutes. (My 5k PR has NOTHING on my time getting from gate E26 to C4. NOTHING.)
But today? My first flight got in early…and flight #2 is 170 minutes late, and counting. <insert array of colorful expletives>
So here are some observations.
1. Even in my travel-disheveled state, I must look OK, because some dude chatted me up. He was as hairy as a pool ball, had a ball cap resting atop his dome at a jaunty (read: misjudged how low the plane ceiling was) angle, and was dressed in more flannel than the Chicago metro area had seen since probably buildings were invented, and he was THISCLOSE to asking me to join him for dinner when I just sort of nonchalantly wandered off. Thank goodness I had a cell phone to pretend to be interested in. I know, rude. But I’m married. And flannel.
2. There are no good gluten-free options in this airport. And by “good”, I mean pizza. Or a sandwich. It’s Sunday night – I get CRANKY on Sunday nights, people! -I’ve been on a sugar bender all weekend (including a particularly naughty threesome involving me and my two favorite men Ben and Jerry) and ALL I WANT IS A FREAKIN PIZZA YO. Or a sandwich. A nice sandwich. NOT AN EFFING SALAD. Salad is NOT food. It’s what you eat when you’re pretending to eat.
The oh-so-helpful menu guide on the interwebs tells me that there are some good gluten-free friendly options here. Like… McDonalds. WHAT. OH HELL NO
After wandering around for two hours in a sugar-crashed stupor (nope. Can’t eat that. Not that either. Don’t want this. Can’t eat that. Really, Chicago- hot dogs, gluten-laden pizza, and Starbucks is the best you can %#%@&$?! do?) I started to quasi-hallucinate. I became <insert angelic choir> One With Foodstuffs. I realized that Food Is Magical and if I wished really, really hard, all the gluten would magically disappear and I COULD EAT ANYTHING I WANTED.
3. Magical thinking is dangerous. Urghhh…never again. <urp>
4. Magical thinking should probably NOT be followed up by a ginormous bag of Raisinettes.
5. Binging in the airport? Stupid expensive. Sorry, kids- I guess you’ll have to sell plasma and a kidney to pay for college.
6. 4th flight delay announced. Man sitting next to me blasts out of his seat and storms off in a huff. (Where he’s going in such a hurry, I have no idea. Maybe he spotted an abandoned Segway; it’s certain no actual PLANES are going anywhere anytime soon.)
The seat is very quickly taken over by someone roughly my father’s age. He’s got his hands on the seat on either side of him, and while he isn’t making eye contact or small talk, I notice that every time I look, it seems like his hand is just a touch closer to my thigh than it was before.
I have to be imagining this, right? I mean, since WHEN is travel-rumpled post-sugar binge anxiety a freakin’ pheromone? The vibe I’m casting is slightly less cozy than “F OFF” or “FALL IN A PIT AND DIE”…yet the hand is creeping closer.
I have no choice. Because I have to defend myself…and more honestly, because I just ate wheat for the first time in 18 months.
I take a deep breath, tighten my diaphragm, and release an abdominal-rippling belch that rattles the pens on the desk six gates over.
And, like a satisfied smoker inhaling her first post-relaxation puff, I exhale a cloud of pepperoni and garlic in Creepy Hand’s direction.
He quickly jerks his hand away and sits straight up in his seat. (Which I may have melted slightly.)
And the plane is boarding, finally. I guess Chicago is done with me for today. The airport is ready to spit me out into the workweek- a bit weary and bleary-eyed, and wary for the next round.
See you in a couple of weeks, Chicago. Next time I’m bringing a full supply of snacks, sneakers, and sarcasm- be warned.
P.S. Official arrival time: 3 hours late, on the nose. Bonus: the plane smelled like diapers. Travel is soooo glam.