“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I just got home last night from a business trip. The trip out was uneventful, and everything at the site went smoothly, leaving me with a few hours to kill before my flight home. The earlier flights were all booked up, so I settled in with the Nintendo to while away the time, trying not to think of the fact that I could be home, tickling my son and cooking him dinner.

The first leg of the flight home went smoothly. One of those weird side-effects of our airline-hub methods of flight routing means that sometimes I have to fly through Dallas to go from Knoxville to Little Rock.  Look at a map to fully appreciate how counter-intuitive this is. I can practically look down and wave at my house while I go by, and I am less than halfway home by airline standards.

Then, in Dallas, my routine luck (or lack thereof) with air travel started to kick in.

First, the flight was delayed. This, I should be used to. This is something that I should learn to pretty much build into my travel plans. On-time flights are not the norm of my flight experience. They fall somewhere behind “Delayed” and above “Canceled” on the travel continuum. On the last leg of a flight, it’s not really much more than an annoyance – it lacks the urgency of a delayed first leg, where there are connections to be missed, and forced overnight stays in bland airport hotels.  Nevertheless, it all keeps me away from my kid, it’s only a matter of degree.

And that, is the crux of it. Delays. Keep. Me. From. Home.

I don’t mind travel. I am a good traveler.  I am reserved and polite to service personnel. I am flexible and (mostly) reasonable and patient. I like solitude, and I amuse myself easily. I pack sparingly and prepare for contingency.

But, at heart, I like to be at home.

In my own space.

With my loved ones.

My son is growing up so quickly, and the great downside of my job is the separation from him that makes me miss some of the funny little moments that make up his days. I genuinely LIKE my child. I enjoy his company, this little man that is so very like and yet unlike me. He is sweet and sharing and funny and inquisitive, and I like being around him.

While I intuitively know that I would rather arrive home alive and intact and late than not arrive at all, even the most necessary of delays makes me impatient and grumpy.

I want to go home.

The equipment (that cute euphemism for PLANE) was delayed in arriving in Dallas for my flight home, which forced a half-hour delay in boarding.  And then the weather required air traffic control to reroute our flight plan to Dallas, which resulted in another 45 minute delay while we sat on the tarmac, like a toy plane in a rubber band gun, waiting for a “GO!”

For those of you who do not fly, you have to realize that planes, when NOT flying, aren’t really temperature controlled to any great extent.  When you cram that much humanity, arm-to-arm and leg-to-leg,  in a metal tube with scant ventilation, it gets a bit warm.  Warm and fragrant.

So now I am late.  AND hot.  AND stinky.

We finally did take off, and within minutes I realized that air traffic control must have been faced with a choice of greater and lesser evils when planning our route, because that weather I mentioned?  We didn’t really AVOID it.  We just avoided MOST of it.  The part we didn’t avoid threw us around the sky like dandelion fluff.  I would have hated to fly through the most of it we did miss.

So now, I am late, hot, stinky AND queasy.

As we were circling our approach into Little Rock,  the lady in the seat next to me woke up (from, as it turned out, her Dramamine induced stupor), and she chatted amicably with me as we coasted down for a landing.  Normally I avoid this kind of pleasantry, but I had finished my book, and was too motion-sick to want to start another, and her accent was very distinctive.  It turned out that she was a really delightful lady, on her way from Auckland, New Zealand to see her daughter graduate Summa Cum Laude from an American university.  In fact from my alma mater.

She had been on planes for 40 hours and hadn’t seen her daughter for six months.

I bow to her.

She wins.

May 15th, 2008 at 4:02 pm
2 Responses to “It’s all a matter of perspective”
  1. 1
    Kat Says:

    I know it’s supposed to be a convenience, and that there are so many precautions to take now to keep us from being blown up in the sky. But why must air travel be so cumbersome and uncomfortable?

    It’s things like you described that convinced me that driving to Las Vegas was a good idea.

  2. 2
    Rixende Says:

    BTW – Tomas and I live 15 minutes from DFW airport. If you every get stuck in Dallas, give us a call. We can take you to dinner or put you up in a spare bedroom for the night if needed. Email me for contact info, might come in handy.