How do you make the post-blogging-conference letdown even more painful? Simple. Your flight home gets cancelled, and you spend the entire day at the airport. The morning after BlogHer 13 ended, I arrived at Chicago O’Hare promptly, breezed through check-in and security, was pleasantly surprised to discover I was sitting at the front of the plane for a change, and sat down next to my cheerful yet quiet seatmate. All was well.
Then the pilot made the unfortunate announcement that there was a problem with the lavatory. Apparently this was a problem so severe that not only was a plunger unable to do the job, several coverall-clad crew members marched solemnly down the aisle over and over, carrying mysterious-looking metal canisters. Their efforts were to no avail- we had to deplane.
Things looked promising when we saw the captain and flight attendants pulling their rolling suitcases on board. Then they turned around and came back off the plane minutes later. It was all over. Our flight had been cancelled.
Because of a fucking toilet.
When the announcement came that we should all line up to rebook new flights, you can imagine the palpable SWOOP of all the seated passengers as we descended upon the ticketing agents. I moved quickly, but if this had been the Hunger Games I would’ve been gone sooner than the nameless girl from District 5. It became clear that at best, I would be several hours later in returning home to my family- at worst, an entire day.
So I did what I always do in these situations- I cried. I stood in the never-ending line, and focused my gaze on my overflowing bag full of Buttpaste, board books, and bra size measuring cups (don’t ask) that I’d acquired from the conference Expo building. I tried to stay calm, avoid eye contact, and under no circumstances was I to open my mouth, lest I begin openly sobbing. Despite my efforts, my tears poured silently down my face.
The only thing that had effectively countered my sadness at leaving the conference and my new BFFs (blog friends forever) was the knowledge that in a few short hours, I’d be with my children again. I didn’t want to prolong our reunion by even one hour, and I suddenly felt desperate to hold their tiny bodies in my arms and hear their joyful voices as they greeted me. I felt as though I couldn’t bear to be separated from them any longer; frustrated, anguished sobs rolled up through my ribcage.
40 minutes later, after I’d been able to regain my composure and began chatting with the woman next to me, the overwhelmed staff announced that we should try to call the airline directly to rebook. I was fortunate enough to get through quickly, and then my heart sank when I was told I had been booked on a flight for the next morning. I began to openly cry again, and begged the woman to check another airline, insisting that I had to return to my young daughters immediately. She obliged, and found me a flight that went through Cleveland on the way to Denver, returning me home at 8:00 that night. Sure, it would irreparably damage bedtime, and involved an incongruous stop on the way, but it was better than nothing.
I continued to stand in line for the better part of another hour while I waited to inquire about my luggage. When I finally arrived at the desk, the ticketing agent was unable to find my confirmation. Thirty irritating minutes later, I was told that they had made an error, and there were no available seats for me on the plane from Cleveland to Denver. I would have to leave the following morning- there were simply no alternatives that got me home before midnight.
And I came unglued.
I stood at the desk as a fresh wave of tears hit me; I was dehydrated from too much alcohol the night before, (did I mention how much fun the BlogHer parties are? Yeah.) my feet were in agony from hours of uninterrupted dancing with my new besties to 80s and 90s dance music, and I was exhausted from two nights in a row of 5 hours of sleep. (Don’t worry, I promise to eventually spill all the fun and fascinating details of the conference that led to my poor choices. Stay tuned.) I couldn’t stand it.
I wandered through the airport like a zombie, clutching my hotel and meal vouchers, and blubbering to my mom on the phone. Yes, I actually walked through a large metropolitan airport crying loudly. There may be another woman, clearly more laid-back than I, who would simply respond to these unfortunate inconveniences with, “Meh! Could be worse.”
Let’s be clear- I am not a “Meh,” kind of person. The only scenarios that evoke a “Meh” reaction from me are: Should I feel bad that my kids have been watching TV for two hours while I get things done/talk on the phone/blog/nap? “Meh. They’re fine.” or, Should I eat this cupcake that just fell into the lawn? “Meh, who cares?”
This was not a “Meh” kind of moment for me. Nearly an entire hour later, the Radisson shuttle finally arrived, transporting me to my new home, where I was free to rest and relax until 5:30 the next morning. Oh wait, did I forget to mention that my suitcase was already en route to Denver? Yeah. Freshening up in your hotel room isn’t quite the same when you have no clothes, pajamas, non-shitty body wash or shampoo, contact lens solution, or clean underwear Oh, and I had a vexing chin hair that I was unable to remove, as tweezers are not allowed in one’s carry-on luggage. It was the tip of the iceberg. Or, tip of the irksome follicle, as it were.
However, I am determined to salvage this evening. Here is my six point plan to redeem the shitshow that was my day:
- Soak in a hot bathtub- CHECK
- See if there is a nearby Wal-Mart or other offensive retailer where I might procure a clean T-shirt. CHECK
- Have a drink with the free drink coupon the empathetic desk clerk gave me. (Last thing I need, or hair of the dog? Discuss.) CHECK
- Eat some dinner with my meal vouchers at the subpar hotel steakhouse. CHECK
- Watch crappy TV alone in my bed wearing the clothes I have to wear all day tomorrow, lest I am unable to find a T-shirt to sleep in. CHECK
- Go to bed at 8:30.
To all my fellow BlogHer friends, I hope your reunions with your family were lovely. I will write a post detailing the incredible experiences we shared at the conference as soon as I transcend the bitterness of this day. At the risk of sounding trite, it really was everything I’d hoped for and more. But it sure would have been nice, after flying high from adrenaline, connection, and merrymaking, to be gently eased into the arms of my family, rather than dropped on my ass at a suburban hotel.
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