Never Traveling Alone

I am writing this while marooned by weather delays at Chicago O’Hare airport. My first fight was canceled and the one I rebooked on has been delayed longer than it will take to fly back to New York. The gate has been changed three times and though we are now being told that we will depart in a half hour, our plane has yet to make an appearance. “We’ll be lucky if we ever get out of here,” a woman says in a heavy New York accent to no one in particular. 

I look around at my fellow castaways at gate K9 (I like that touch, at least). The young smoochy couple sitting entwined on the floor (I cringe to think how long ago that could have been me). The older woman who has liberated her Yorkie from its travel bag; it makes a bee line for another passenger’s Wolfgang Puck personal pizza—not personal enough for the dog, apparently. There is an announcement about the location of the USO club in the airport and a few seconds later a pair of servicemen stride by. What must it be like for them to be delayed, I wonder. How precious a commodity must time be for soldiers returning home for an all too brief leave.

A pair of strangers strike up a conversation about the new Indiana Jones movie while a bunch of kids start a card came. A mom gives her daughter a shoulder rub. One man reads his Bible. He seems to be most at peace with our endless delay. The Yorkie wanders over to sniff his shoe and he drops his hand down to pet the dog without looking up from the page. I remind myself that if we are grounded here much longer there is always the airport meditation chapel to visit instead of making another bored round of the fast food spots. In fact making use of this time warp in my day to reconnect with God suddenly seems to be the point of all this.

I love travel even with all its attendant hassles. No, I don’t like sitting here in Chicago when I could be home in New York. But something about having to stop and take stock of my fellow humans at gate K9 lifts my spirits, as if I am being reminded that I never travel alone. And indeed I don’t. I close my eyes and say a prayer of thanks for that.

When I open them the sun has peeked out and a plane taxis toward our gate.

Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of GUIDEPOSTS Publications.