Ramblings from the Cove...
By Lars Gren
It was not the sort of trip one plans—not that it was the only time the alarm rang at 4:30 for a 7am flight to Philadelphia. Our desire was to reach Dallas but on our first time going USAir to that destination it necessitated a change of flights in the lovely city of brotherly love. We had had a good nights rest and the short hour flight went well arriving on time enabling us to walk a bit while watching the parade of am travelers which is a never ending fascination for us. Why would anyone sit immersed in c-phone conversations and miss what is more entertaining than the Easter parade in NYC? The 10:30 flight was at the gate yet there seemed to be a delay in boarding. Bit by bit one or two would sidle up to the desk inquiring as to the hold up. Folks would perk up as the news circulated that an update would soon be announced. We were comforted by the thought of departing soon and in no time enjoying the warm late March, Texas weather.
Well past 11:00 we heard that there was a wee problem in that the wheels were on a small patch of ice and that there was a need of a de-icer to be brought over. I guess one can’t just dump a few hot pails of water on the spot and turn ice into a puddle for it was not as though we were below freezing at that hour. There had been frost during the night and we heard that hints of weather might be on the way but it didn’t look that bad.
When the gate folks began saying that passengers should go to gate so and so for fight “X” which will depart at 2:30 as our departure had been put on hold until further word, perhaps de-icers were in short supply or in for maintenance, a slight thought came into my mind that we might have a problem. That was the beginning. There followed lots of promises of Dallas flights “C, D and E and which gate to go to and when flight so and so would be leaving and as herd of cattle we followed the call, a few stampeding wildly to be first in line for the bad news to come that there were no seats available or that a cancellation had been posted. And so it went as hour after hour slowly passed until bit by bit we learned that airports in the NE had been closed and all should plan to go to service counters for new flight arrangements as USAir, had supposedly 1,200 of their flights in the NE cancelled. This in some small way disturbed more then a few passengers and made for interesting at times quite colorful monologues which developed into dialogues with the frazzled attendants who were not always able to bridle the tongue even if the customer was quite civil.
There had been a few wise in the herd who had immediately gone and made hotel reservations and then quickly on to the service desk which by the time I approached it was a four hour long “two step” inch by inch to which I said, “No thanks” we’ll get a motel. Well to that, I was the new kid on the block. There must have been a bidding war on rooms with prices on an inflationary rise. Best I could do was 15 miles from the airport in who knows where. With a mind that works at the speed of the reservation line I wondered at what next to do when I thought of friends in New Jersey. To my surprise I found “Sue” at home and through the marvels of the internet she found a downtown motel which she booked and the price only increased once while she was making the reservation. There was a plus too, actually two, for she invited us to come stay there if we did not get out the next day.
The next morning, eager and full of optimistic hope, we took a cab to the airport. Seeing the line out on the street a foreboding mood hit me, yes, the lines were still four hours long and it was another call to “Sue” where the second plus of the weekend occurred. There had been what one might call a stiffness between her “Bill” and myself and in that weekend I had the experience of, “shedding the past” that had been gnawing at me for several years although I had previously written about the matter but there is something good about a face to face encounter in such things.
Well we enjoyed Sunday church and lunch together and on an off chance that there might be a flight we swung by the airport. The lines were still hours long but having grey hair and looking geriatric I noticed a lone supervisor at the counter and came to meet Rita Gray who took pity on me and quickly set us up for a flight for Tuesday. Then on Monday I thought why not give it another try. Off we went and who is behind the counter but my friend Rita Gray who asked why I had come back? Just one more try to get going. “No checked luggage you can leave in a half hour” which we did and arrived in Dallas where Bill Gothard’s young ladies EXCEL class had just seen an EE video and were about to have dinner.
So from 4:30 am Friday to Monday suppertime—well it could have been longer—Boston to Dallas. Just about the same as driving time but then look at the experience we would have missed such as meeting a man at the motel who had waited in a taxi line outside in sleet/snow/mist combination for three hours for his turn at a ride since taxies were strangely unavailable. Then there was the interesting group heading for Fl who latched on to the captain of their supposed flight with the “Lady leader” of the group exclaiming, “We are going to stay with you and not let you out of our sight for we do not want to miss going with you.” “That’s fine and if I don’t fly you’ll not get there either.” Most memorable? The 87 year old classily dressed lady in the wheelchair who had managed to curtail an entourage of a supervisor, a wheel chair pusher, two counter attendants, plus one spare to hear her plaintive lament, “You’ve got to get me to Atlanta! My grandson is being bar mitzvah and I can’t miss it! I have to be there surely there is something you can do.” She gathered quite a crowd with her outbursts punctuated with, “I am 87 and not well and might die if I don’t get there.” Rather than leaving us with the consequences of such dire prediction I offered a few words as I was quite close to her and leaning down I patted her hand and said, “Mam their doing the best they can. Try to just relax and if there is anyway for you to fly they will have a seat for you.” “I know it but it’s just that I don’t know what I’ll do if I miss the bar mitzvah.” My guess is that she attended via photos or video at a later date. One think for sure if you are stuck on weekdays at that airport ask for Rita Gray a gem in the USAir system. She is the head supervisor. The trip? Memorable—too long—as is this screed and so that’s it from the Cove.
God bless y'all,
L and E