Here I am again, sitting at the airport waiting for a red eye flight to London. It been a year since my first trip overseas and with those memories still fresh in my mind, I am eager to get back. But as I sit and wait, 8:55 PM comes and goes. I remind myself that I am at the Philadelphia airport flying on U.S. Airways. What were the chances I would actually leave on time? Never good. As the minutes slide by I can’t help but mentally subtract from the time I’ll have tomorrow.
I can see the plane sitting at the gate. It’s tantalizing, and yet one hour passes, then two. The young boy sitting behind me (whose behavior has been far better than mine) is getting restless. He leans over to his Mom and announces that he would rather be in school than sitting here at the airport. He would rather be in school taking a test, he says, adding the second part slowly for dramatic effect. I tell him that I feel the same way and he grins.
Finally, as we board the details trickle in. When the plane arrived from Las Vegas no one on the ground crew remembered to hook up the ventilation system that keeps the cabin cool while the engines are off. No one else noticed either as the temperatures inside soared. That’s all been taken care of, we are assured. But actually I don’t feel assured. A mistake like that does not instill confidence.
Everywhere around me weary and defeated passengers stir, pull out their passports, and prepare to board. We come to the sinking realization that we have another long wait ahead of us when we hear the pilot’s voice on the intercom telling us we are number sixteen for takeoff. It’s midnight by the time we do.
Once in the air, I become conscious of the fact that I have fallen into some luck at last, and it is not inconsequential. I am sitting alongside of no one. It is a perfectly empty seat. I have hit the seating lottery! I can claim two seats, two pillows, two blankets as my own. I push up the armrest between and curl sideways across both. It is not exactly comfortable, but I doze off believing that things are finally looking up.