Last week I got stranded at the airport.
At the conclusion of what ended up being an almost ten-hour ordeal, I huddled in the corner of my room in a whimpering heap, my soul crushed and my idealism shattered.
I was broken.
Don’t roll your eyes. It had never happened to me before, so I had no idea about how bad things can get when you pull back the seedy curtain of life’s sparkly air-travel veneer. It’s bad behind there, you guys. Really bad.
I don’t travel a lot, so airplanes have always been a bit of a novelty to me. The food on little trays! The wheelie luggage! The only time I buy magazines! I’m the person who always accepts the headset and actually gets excited looking out the window.
At least, I was that person. (Squints and gazes into distance.)
It all started when I got dropped off at Brisbane Airport around 4pm. I had checked-in online and was ready for my flight at 4:45. Easy. My phone was only at 30% battery, but the flight to Sydney is only an hour, so I figured I was safe.
I was wrong.
I marched on into the lounge with a spring in my step and a sparkle in my eye.
Everything was still hopeful then. Still possible. I still saw beauty in the world.
Then I looked up at the departures board. There were a bunch of words that I’d never seen at the airport before, like ‘DELAYED’ and ‘CANCELLED’. But I was still so young, so naïve. I didn’t think that it could possibly have anything to do with my flight. My flight was going to be fun! It was leaving in half and hour and I would probably be served a sandwich!
I took a seat in the food court and started reading the news on my phone. I guess I got so engrossed in
current events tmz.com that I didn’t even notice the change.
I looked up. A darkness had descended over the terminal.
At some point while I was reading, everything around me had plunged into Thunderdome-style chaos.
Babies were screaming. People were trading locks of their hair for pre-packaged chicken caeser wraps.
Everybody was suddenly dressed like post-apocalyptic bikies.
Something had gone seriously wrong.
I made my way over to the departures board. My flight had been cancelled. I asked a dishevelled looking woman nearby what was going on. She mumbled something about wind in Sydney and then ran away screaming.
I was struggling to process the information I had just been given. Cancelled? What? That can’t be right. That stuff only happens in scary stories! I was going to eat a mini sandwich and watch a crappy movie that I can barely hear with my headset! WHAT WILL BECOME OF ME NOW?
An announcement over the loudspeaker suddenly echoed through the terminal: people on my flight needed to head over to some desk to get re-allocated. The Desk That Would Decide Our Fates.
Nothing could prepare me for the stampede that followed. Everybody was fighting to get a good place in the line that led to the magic desk. Some people walked away from the desk with blank faces. Others just fell to their knees in despair.
My turn finally came. I approached with trepidation, like I was walking into some kind of sadistic prank. I felt like I was going to ask the Wizard of Oz for a way home but would probably end up walking away with a Rebecca Black album and some kind of flesh-eating virus.