The twelve hour trip

rhv, chicago

Stuck at O’Hare waiting for an airplane, all afternoon for a flight that should take less than an hour I was mesmerized by the volumes of people walking around or past me as I made my way from an incoming gate. I recognized the sculpture of the dinosaur reaching the rafters, from a trip returning from the Pacific Northwest a few years back.

I kept checking the departure boards only to see the time go from five p.m. to five-thirty with the note, “waiting for airplane” being the only consistent item next to my flight number. When I arrived at the gate, one terminal and sixteen gates in from where I had arrived, I asked some folks standing around if they were going to Cleveland and they said with dismay, they were hoping to. The time was now changed to 7:30 p.m. departure.

The endless assortment of clothing and shoes worn by the travelers intrigued me. The colors and styles were amazing and I wondered if the shoes were as comfortable as some of them looked. When I was nineteen I was assistant to the window trimmer at a small department store in a shopping mall in Mayfield Heights, where I learned a lot about clothing, brand names, fabrics and had access to read at least some of a trade paper called Women’s Wear Daily from New York City.

I sat next to a lady who was rocking her grandchild in a stroller while the mother had gone to get some food and drink. They had lots of stuff in an assortment of bags and the younger woman completely collapsed and dismantled the large stroller into two bags before their flight to Edinburgh was ready for boarding.

Next to sit beside me was Mr. Kim from San Diego. His wife was staying on another week to have a longer visit with a new grandchild. We took turns going to the departure board and he called his Uber ride to be sure they’d still pick him up and they said they were tracking his flight and would be there when he arrived.   The following week Mr. Kim had an appointment with a neurosurgeon to talk about a tumor on his brain. We talked until his flight was called to board as the time wound on to near seven p.m.

Shortly after the San Diego flight took off my flight was changed to a different gate and the Clevelanders among us were on the move again, thankfully within the same terminal and only about a dozen gates down the corridor. We squeezed into the waiting area, many eating an assortment of snacks, but I was holding off, clinging to the hope that my favorite pizza place would still be open as I drove past it from the airport. Besides all I could think of was the $14.00 lunch I had at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa airport – a thick turkey sandwich and blueberry smoothie which was delicious and filling, but more expensive than most dinners I have indulged in recently.

It was after eight when we finally headed into the airplane and it was midnight on my car clock as I pulled into my garage, pizza less. I was thoroughly exhausted and wonder why a thirty minute flight from Cedar Rapids to O’Hare and less than an hour’s flight time from there to Cleveland should take a full twelve hours since I left the hotel at noon. There must be a better way to travel.

The documentary rolled on telling about the success of the human family in numbers and as the dominant species of the planet, saying there are over seven billion humans now and in the next fifty years that number is expected to grow to nine billion.   Nine billion people! I saw several of them at O’Hare International Airport in July of 2015.


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