Hello, fellow enthusiasts! Today’s post is coming to you from my phone, as I stand in a line for KLM, trying to get rebooked on a flight home. It has been a tough morning.
My original flight was due to depart at 7 am local time, and I got up at about 4 to get ready. It was not until we were due to start boarding that we found out our flight had been delayed by four (yes, FOUR) hours.
It’s a recipe for disaster: tired, hungry people–loads of us–all impatient and desperate for answers, waiting. And yet, it seems to be working. People are waiting for their turn, chatting quietly with each other. No one is yelling at the flight attendants. Somehow, we’re making the best of it.
What makes that happen? Part of it, I’m sure, is simple resignation: there is nothing we can do about the fog in Amsterdam, and we adjust out of necessity. But that is not all. I’m sure some of you have heard David Foster Wallace’s 2005 address to Kenyon college, where he talks about the importance of choosing to move beyond our default setting selfishness. It is an idea that ties into one of my goals for this month. The theme I have chosen is “diligence” and it includes a goal to “choose the clean slate”–to decide that right now is a really good time for a fresh start. It is a reminder not to bring my own biases to the fore in my interactions with other people. The airline employee who is at the head of the line is not out to get me; instead, I can see how hard she is working to get us all new flights, how she has been unfailingly polite to everyone she has helped. The other people in this line are not obstacles to getting my own problems sorted; they are going on vacations to cities they have never seen before, they are going to funerals and hospitals to see new babies and weddings of old friends. This acknowledgment, however small, of that shared humanity, is what has the potential to make even these exhausting, disappointing, soul-crushing frustrations into an opportunity for for something more: for unexpected new friends, for a chance to write a blog post, possibly even for a bit of grace.
And in the meantime, there’s always the duty-free.
Updated to add: After I wrote this, we discovered our flight was only delayed by two hours, instead of the expected four. Nevertheless, I did end up spending three-and-a-half hours waiting in the Sky Priority line at Amsterdam to get a new flight (I knew that loyalty program would come in handy–the regular line was MASSIVE). Ultimately, I made it onto a new flight, and I’m posting from Atlanta. Barring further catastrophes, I should be home by about 1 AM on Saturday, at which point I will have been awake for 22 hours.