Submitted by megan on Tue, 04/21/2009 - 14:04
This morning at 11 am, when I got back to the Newark airport, the woman in the security line in front of me said, "Wow, doesn't anyone fly any more? There's nobody here!"
"They were all here last night at 2 am," I said.
I should have known it was going to be bad when I got here at 11 pm and the hallways from Terminal A to the Sky Train were lined with sleeping people and hollow-eyed children propping themselves against the wall.
At my new gate I was second in line to find out they'd sold all 6 seats of the people flying from Ottawa to Dublin via Newark. Since, you know, our flight from Ottawa was 4 hours late. After all, how in the world could they have known that we were all on our way? Seeing as how we were on a flight delayed by Continental because of other flights delayed by Continental, and all.
We stood at the gate. I looked at the pilot flipping switches in the cockpit of the plane we weren't going to get on and cringed at the air of privilege in my fellow passengers' voices, edging further and further back from them with each "But it's my seat." All of us getting dirty looks from the woman who'd been there since 7 pm when her seat was sold because her Continental flight was delayed.
I'm all for stating what's wrong and trying to get what you want, but getting prissy with a guy who can't do fuck all for you only makes things much much worse. It makes everyone upset and makes everything take longer. I wanted to push them all aside and say, "Okay, we're not getting on the plane. What now, how are you going to fix this?"
Maybe it was the prissiness, but Continental didn't, not at all. They sent us to the Service Counter, which was closed. Though there were still clerks there; one of whom shouted, "We're leaving you here! Just go! We're closed! They'll handle you at baggage service!"
One of the guys I'd been joking around with at Gate 113 started yelling. I guess the 4 beers he'd joked were keeping him calm had worn off.
I headed for the hills. Yelling makes me crawl up inside myself and I won't be around it. Better to head for Baggage.
But of course Baggage Service does not handle international flights. Though I didn't know this as I watched person after person on their way to Dublin get to the front and argue. Their invective lost, sliding down the stony faces of the clerks.
My turn came up. "I was trying to get to Dublin, they said you could rebook me," I said, sliding my useless boarding pass over the counter. She left it there, searched for a pamphlet, circled a number and said "You need to call here. They handle international."
What? It took two hours and three different counters for a toll free number? Could not Tom “That's S-U-L-L-I-V-A-N if you want to write a letter” Sullivan have handed me the same piece of paper 90 minutes prior?
I looked at the pamphlet dumbly. When I looked up, she looked wary, steeling herself for nasty. I didn't even have the heart to tighten my jaw.
"Is there anything else?" she said.
"Uh no. Yeah. I hope both our nights get a lot better."
It was the first real smile I'd seen in hours.
"Me too," she replied.