Sometimes you can just sense it.
Sure, the weather might be crappy – rain, low-hanging clouds, temperatures hovering just above freezing. Nothing that would honestly disrupt a normal person’s day, though. And certainly nothing that would hinder a technologically advanced tube, packed full of human-meat, hurtling through the sky at incredible speeds. If it turns out planes can’t handle a little rain and cold, well then what hell have we been doing claiming we can fly?
Actually, turns out I haven’t been able to fly these past few months. At least not easily. I’ve experienced by far the largest number of delayed or cancelled flights in a five month span this winter. I’m not sure if that speaks to an especially turbulent season or the continued decline of air travel, but it certainly has given me a sort of sixth sense. Sitting at my desk today, working quietly, watching the clock, I knew, absolutely knew something was going to go wrong with my travel plans. Madison to Chicago, Chicago to Houston. A nice, two-hour layover to pad any delays. Just the rain and chill to make the afternoon anything less than perfect for air travel. But only a little less than perfect.
I knew though. And I was right, turns out. 10 minutes before I planned to leave for the airport I received a phone call from American Airlines. “We’re sorry, but your flight has been cancelled.” Shit damn, not even a delay, just straight up cancelled. I looked outside at the drizzle and counted my blessings. Imagine being up in the sky during a hearty bout of wet air. Definitely a near miss.
Wiping the sweat from my brow, I contacted the travel department, where I was told to re-contact American Airlines. After sitting on hold for no less than an hour, American rescheduled me for a flight later in the evening. I would arrive in Houston past midnight, and, with an hour drive on to Galveston, I wasn’t expected to find sleep until at least 1:30 A.M. This, with a 6 A.M. wake up call. I sighed audibly, but resigned myself to a shitty Thursday. Such is “adulthood.”
But wait! Another call, again from American Airlines. “We’re sorry, but your flight has been cancelled.” Guess I could have expected that. Wet air at noon probably won’t dry out by the evening. You can’t just wring out the sky like you would a damp washcloth. Gotta let that shit air dry. Or at least, this is what American assumed, as they rescheduled me for a 5 P.M. flight – the next day. “Hmm,” I said to the robot on the other end of the phone. “Let me get back to on that one.”
“I’m sorry,” the robot replied. “I didn’t understand you. Please say ‘Yes’ to accept the changes or ‘No’ to speak to a customer service agent.”
I contacted the travel department again. “Kill me now,” I requested. “Every moment I live is pure agony.” They understood and scheduled me on a Delta flight, this time to Detroit. Safe, finally. Delta hasn’t let me down (as much). I immediately went to Delta’s website to check the status of my new flight. Not a delay in sight. Fuck yeah, Delta Airlines ain’t afraid of no rain! And then my phone rang.
“We’re sorry, but your schedule has changed.”
The Delta flight was delayed an hour and a half. I would almost certainly miss my connecting flight, unless the plane also contained a time machine. Considering the weather situation, I doubted Delta would send out it’s time machine plane. Much too risky. So that flight was a bust as well. I double-sighed extra-audibly and called my coworkers in Galveston.
“Hey fuckos, how bad do you need me down there?”
“Real bad, Dakota, no one here understands our medical software, it is as if they were born deaf and blind.”
I’m not one to pass up on a Helen Keller moment, so I contacted travel again (we’re good friends now) and asked them to schedule me on a flight out the next morning. No, not a flight to Minneapolis, where there will be 6 inches of fresh snow. No, not a flight to Detroit, where they’re expecting thunderstorms all morning. A flight to Chicago, again, where they’re expecting grey skies, temperatures just above freezing, and periods of light rain.
Cross your fingers everyone.