Yesterday, Monday, February 8, began at 5:00 in the blessed AM. I was headed to Chicago for a meeting with the presbytery’s Peacemaking Committee and to speak at the presbytery meeting scheduled for today (February 9).
Recognizing the wee hour, I had done my packing and organizing in advance. When the alarm went off, I slid out of bed, gathered up the last couple items, smeared some cashew butter on toast and headed out the door to scrape a thin patina of ice from the car.
I made my way to the Louisville airport and boarded the plane. I arrived at Midway about 7:30 AM Chicago time. Jan Dykstra met me and took me to the presbytery office.
The meeting went well – good conversation, sometimes hard conversation, sometimes revealing, healing conversation. Somewhere in there, during the morning, first reports of a winter storm headed Chicago’s way were shared. The reports increased in frequency as the day went on, but we continued to meet. We enjoyed a good lunch ordered for us by staff person Bonnie Gilchrist.
About one o’clock, Bob Reynolds, presbytery executive, stopped by. We exchanged greetings – he and I had first met when he worked for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and I was in Des Moines Presbytery.
Then he said he had some news that we needed to hear. And he announced that, because of the reported storm, the presbytery meeting for today had been postponed.
My first reaction was to say that someone could take me to the airport after the meeting and I could try to change my flight. The others present encouraged me to try and make the change at that moment. I took a little persuading, but then took their advice.
Of course, saying I would make a change proved far easier than doing so. I had made the reservation through the PC(USA)’s new travel agency, using their Web site. Southwest said that since the reservation had been made that way it could only be changed that way. I was using someone else’s computer so I did not have the URL.
That led me to look at one-way car rentals: about $200 before the taxes, fees, surcharges, etc. that add significant amounts to the cost.
I went to Southwest’s home page again. This time thinking it might be easiest simply to buy another ticket. It was. They had a $38 (before taxes, etc.) ticket which I bought and I got in the A boarding group. It went through St. Louis to get to Louisville, but it was a ticket.
I returned to the peacemakers and finished the meeting. Then two of them took me on a ride – an adventure really – an adventure described in a series of text messages to friends – to Midway airport. They were taking a route that was new to them – but we made it.
As I checked my bag, the counter attendant said, “It is good you changed your flight. We will be closed tomorrow.” Interesting I thought at the time. Not interesting enough for me to check today.
I toddled to my gate. Many flights were delayed – although I did not notice any being cancelled. My flight to St. Louis was posted as being on time.
Time came to board. The plane was there. The early evening sun actually peeked through the clouds. But we were told we could not leave since there were no pilots. We sat and sat. And after a while, one pilot entered the gateway. And after a while another pilot entered. And then we got on and – late, late enough that connections would be tight – the plane took off.
There were only a few passengers. I had a row to myself. We landed in St. Louis. Word came that we could operate cell phones. Mine buzzed to indicate a voicemail. It was Southwest telling me that the flight I was to have been on today had already been cancelled. Whatever came next, I had made the right choice.
Deplaning at about 7:30, we heard the news that the scheduled 7:45 flight to Louisville was delayed until 9:50. The plane was to come from Texas but it had not left.
I had some poor chili and a pretty dry and tasteless “Great American Bagel.” Then I went and sat and sat waiting for the plane.
The next announcement was that the plane would be delayed at least another hour. As we sat and sat, Southwest staff brought out soft drinks and snacks – never a good sign. About the time that I booted up my computer – paying for internet access because something, probably the weather, was messing with the AT&T network that supports my BlackBerry and air card, we were moved to a gate “nearer the security area.” Not sure what that meant, but it was the announcement
Finally, about 9:00 came the word – the plane had left and we should depart around 10:30. It was closer to 10:45 when we boarded.
About this time, I did some quick calculations – converting to Eastern Time, allowing time for Southwest to bring in our luggage and for me to drive to the Shire from the airport – I figured that I would need to sleep in this morning to be functional at all today.
I found a seat – the plane was completely full. And we sat and sat.
After a while, came the announcement that we were missing a flight attendant and could not talk off until she arrived. Then they announced that there were four folks coming in on other flights. We were to be the last Southwest plane out of St. Louis but there were a couple flights arriving at St. Louis.
The attendant got there. Our fellow travellers arrived. The plan taxied to the de-icing station and we sat and sat.
Takeoff ensued. We flew to Louisville – where it was snowing – and one runway was closed (so they told us) and the ground crew was working to clear the other runway. So we sat and sat as the plane circled high above the city.
But sitting and sitting, like all things, good or otherwise, eventually ends. We landed. By the time I made baggage claim, our luggage was there. I found my car – and headed to the Shire, arriving about 2:30 AM. An hour or so later I called it a night.
I woke today around noon and have been working at home ever since (until I did this posting).
No gym or focused exercise yesterday and I overate – but somehow between the sitting, I managed to take 8,093 steps.
There is snow in Louisville today – and it impacted many of my colleagues – but my decision to stay at home had been made well before morning.
See you along the Trail.