The long wait

What a trip to LA… the kind that gets self-righteous bi-coasters in the mood to litigate. The 4.45 PM flight from JFK to LAX was delayed by two hours, because the airport’s roll field was so crowded the tower was unable to navigate the plane from its post-landing waiting area to its designated gate.

But I didn’t mind. I was traveling alone, because the boys and the List Maker are already in Los Angeles. They were waiting for me, and I found out later had hoped to surprise me by picking me up, but the two hour delay would have pushed it too far beyond their bedtime.

I had to think of C.K. Chesterton. In a recent article in the New Yorker, I read a quote that touches on how I have always felt about airports, tough I must admit it rarely supersedes the impatience that ultimately takes over.

“Most of the inconveniences that make men swear or women cry are really sentimental or imaginative inconveniences—things altogether of the mind. For instance, we often hear grown-up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No; for to him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder and a palace of poetical pleasures. Because to him the red light and the green light on the signal are like a new sun and a new moon. Because to him when the wooden arm of the signal falls down suddenly, it is as if a great king had thrown down his staff as a signal and started a shrieking tournament of trains. I myself am of little boys’ habit in this matter.'”

I love looking out at airports. I’m less fascinated by the insides, having studied them at length in the past. But the rollfields with their purpose-built machines and trucks are fascinating, especially at night when bright sodium light layers itself across shiny metal surfaces.

Too bad C.K. Chesterton was a raging anti-semite. I didn’t realize it when I was younger ( “The Man who was Thursday” was required reading in high school) but the New Yorker article went into great detail about it. Unfortunately I can’t provide you with a link, it’s not archived on their site yet.

He might have taken delight in my punishing trip. After two hours we were finally allowed to board. The plane pushed away from the gate… and then did nothing. We rolled out to a holding area, and then sat there for almost four hours. Thuderstorms were scattered around the New York area, an entourage of Hurricane Dolly making landfall in Texas, and the entire eastern seaboard was limited to three out of a possible twelve flight corridors. And those were closing, too. Most planes went back to a gate, unloaded the passengers who then presumably had to go find their luggage, and then a cab back to wherever. It had begun raining out, and I’m not sure whether the airlines are expected to provide rooms for passengers of weather-cancelled flights.

After two hours of delays at boarding, and another four hours of standing on the tarmac, we finally got clearance to take off. The passengers gave a collective joyfull Rebel Yell, and the flight itself was uneventful.

2.18 AM arrival, originally scheduled for 8.07 PM.

Seeing the boys this morning definitely made up for it.

One comment

  1. Rick Smith said:
    2008/07/31
    16:19

    Your comment about how kids would see the wait at the train station as a plus, not an adult-created “issue”, reminds me of what my 9-year-old said when I showed him my cracked iPhone. I either dropped it or it got hit by a lacrosse ball (saved me some embarrassing personal injury, possibly, by being well-placed in my pocket). I was distressed, but Garrett looked at it and said “Cool! Hey guys, check out my dad’s iPhone. It’s got these cool spider marks on it!” He knew the glass was broken, but it just struck him as superior to the plain, old unbroken phone. (Phone still works and I’ve adopted his view of it)

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