Today’s the first day back after my trip to Costa Rica.
Or, it was supposed to be.
The night before my 7:15am flight, my friend (and ex-imaginary-arch-nemesis) Ash messaged me that a volcano had erupted and covered the San Jose airport in ash. (Really, what are the odds that my trip to visit Ash would be cancelled on account of ash? Too cutesy to happen, I thought.)
I kept refreshing the list of cancelled flights, and mine didn’t appear on it. So I got up at 4 am as planned. 4 am. The hour when only farmers, breast-feeding moms, and meth heads are awake. Went to the airport.
Got on the plane.
Buckled my seatbelt, put my setback in the upright position, passive-aggressively battled the passenger next to me for the armrest, ignored the safety demonstration, got psyched to nod off and regain some lost sleep.
Eavesdropped on a shrill woman with exposed, dirty feet telling a stranger that her husband won’t travel with her because he’s an artist and all he cares about in life are his teeny, tiny paintings with their teeny, tiny flowers, but that’s OK, because her life can still be big without him and this trip is just for her.
Texted Ash that we were taking off. Exchanged expressions of PHEW and MEANT TO HAPPEN and WOOHOO, WE’RE ON! and CAN YOU IMAGINE IF IT GOT CANCELLED? THAT WOULD HAVE SUCKED!
And then, the announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this flight has been called back to the gate. The airport in San Jose is closed. We’ve been told we’ll have new information in two hours.”
I KNEW it. And I know the airline knew it, too. The whole boarding and clearing for takeoff was a charade. Because why not toy with our heads? Why not get our hopes up on the off-off-off chance that the airport might open just in time and they can still run the flight?
Playing with 200 peoples’ emotions, as long as it all happens before you have to hand out free barbecue flavor Popchips, doesn’t cost a dime.
Spent several hours in the airport knowing that I was probably there for nothing, because really, was someone going to clear a whole airport of volcanic ash in a couple of hours? With what, a broom?
But then what if I left and later found out the flight had boarded and gone to Costa Rica after all?
Tried to sleep in a seat at the gate. Sent Ash a video of myself “jerking off.” Heard announcement that we’d now be finding out information about our flight at 1:45.
Was it worth 50 bucks to buy a day pass to the United Club? Another layer of limbo.
When this happens, there’s an airport-wide pact among airline personnel.
A cone of silence. Don’t tell nobody nothing.
I just happened to hear the desk people at the lounge, where I’d decided to cough up the 50 bucks, gossiping. “You hear about this Costa Rica flight? They say it’s not going out till at least tomorrow.”
My trip was only 3 nights. No point going for 2. Got my refund and went home.
This was not the kind of cancelled I like.
I like the kind that saves you stress and hassle. Not the kind that happens after you’ve already gone through it and gotten to the airport. That kind’s a total waste.
First, the wasted money:
-The Carmel car to the airport.
-The overpriced gum and magazines at Hudson News because, as usual, I didn’t fit in the time to go to CVS before the trip.
-Also from Hudson News, the usual book that I wasn’t going to read.
(I always buy some bestseller about the brain and how you can change it, but it invariably remains in my bag the whole trip. Because my brain doesn’t want to read it.)
-The ride back from the airport, in a crappy New Jersey cab that had gum wrappers on the floor and didn’t take credit cards.
The wasted calories:
– A terrible blueberry muffin, the kind I only buy at an airport because airports make me think it’s OK to consume a 500-calorie baked good, as long as I eat just the top at first and then pick at the bottom part over the course of the day with my fingers.
The wasted stress, which upsets me most:
– Fitting in a pedicure, hair appointment, eyelash appointment, because two women who’ve never met in person want to look good for each other, as do any women, period.
– Taking on too much work before leaving, and then berating myself for my poor time management.
– Worrying all day before takeoff how I’m going to fit in pedicure, work, packing, and dinner with a friend who’s in town for the first and only time in a year. Cursing my feet for needing fresh nail polish in order to appear human.
– Cancelling dinner with that friend, hating myself even more for my poor time management and my prioritizing of toenails over friendship.
– Knowing I’ve packed more “going out outfits” than I need, wondering if I’ll ever nail packing during my time on this earth.
– Remembering right after getting into bed for my 4 hours’ sleep that I haven’t set up my away message.
– Lying in bed awake, because I can never fall asleep when I know I have to wake up early. A cruel irony.
But then, there’s the upside.
– Our flight didn’t fly all the way to Costa Rica and get turned around.
– Or, it didn’t fly all the way there and crash because of volcanic ash.
– The planning and anticipation with Ash was fun. I don’t regret that part, even though I now have trip-to-Costa-Rica and meeting-my-new-friend blue balls.
– Material for blog post.
Other than that, not sure what the teachable moment or silver lining is. Any ideas?
Tell me a bright side of not going on this trip.
Or, have you ever had a trip cancelled?
Do you spell it canceled, or cancelled?
What’s your biggest traveling nightmare? Real, or imagined?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS