Monday, April 20, 2015

The Best and Worst of Humanity

Airports are fascinating places.  If you ever want to see some egregious human behavior, you can start there.  The tension of connections, the anxiety of air travel, the outrageous food prices...all create a portal where people feel free to become rude, self-centered jerks.

We recently returned from a trip to Oregon.  We spent some time with Chris' family following the passing of his grandfather, and planned to return home to Charlotte with a comfortable connection in Salt Lake City.
We've got a ticket to ride!

All smiles en route to Portland!

It started out well.  We enjoyed a complimentary breakfast at our hotel, and planned to eat lunch in SLC, our connection.  While in flight to SLC, the pilot notified us that SLC airport had just closed due to a wind storm, and there was a chance we would turn back.  We flew another 30 minutes or so before feeling the plane veer sharp left, as the pilot announced our immediate return to Portland, followed by a change of plans...we would divert to Boise to refuel, and wait for SLC to reopen.  We landed in Boise and sat on the tarmac for over two hours before getting in the air again to SLC.
 


Upon arriving in SLC, we waited in quite a long line to rebook our connection, which we had now missed.  We had also missed lunch....and dinner...being cooped up on a plane all afternoon. Rebooked on a flight early in the morning, we searched for a hotel to camp at for the evening.  There was only ONE still available, so we bypassed food and headed for the shuttle.

We were certainly not dressed for the snowy, chilly weather that greeted us outside at the curb.  Both kids folded into us, shivering as we waited for the hotel shuttle to arrive.  A group of people outside had been waiting and hopped on the shuttle as it pulled up.  The driver promised he'd return in 15 min, so we stepped inside the doorway to wait it out.  As we did that, a large group of people sauntered outside, discussing hotel accommodations...we were all going to the same place.  Waiting inside was no longer an option if we wanted to get on the shuttle, so we returned to the curb.  As the shuttle pulled around (40 minutes later), hysteria ensued as people threw themselves onto the shuttle ahead of us.  I've never seen such reckless, animalistic behavior up close.  Despite pleas from kind onlookers around us, no one volunteered to "let the children go first", though we had been standing there longer than any of them.

We brought our shivering children inside and weighed our options.
OPTION 1: We could stand out in the cold and fight for the next shuttle (another 40 minutes, surely).  That would land us at the hotel late at night- with no bags- and the prospect of fighting these same idiots for a shuttle in the morning.

OPTION 2:  We could sleep in the airport.

The second of the options seemed surprisingly better, especially since it involved food in the immediate future.  (Mama gets hangry.)  We decided to go for it, and I immediately burst into tears.  I immediately felt guilt for not fighting harder and getting a bed for my children.  I was writing speeches in my head, berating the greedy herd that put us in this position, while wandering the airport looking for food.  By this time, everything had closed....except McDonalds.  Good ol' disgusting McDonalds.

We bought a couple blankets and neck pillows and settled some chairs in the corner of the terminal.  As we tucked them in, Kendall looked at us and exclaimed "we're really sleeping at the airport?!"  As expected, she dropped off to sleep immediately, and Carter followed a couple hours later (that kid....).  Chris and I soon gave up on the prospect of sleeping, scrolled through our phones, watched the clocks, grabbed coffee at 5 a.m., woke our sleeping kids and headed for our gate to check in.
Early, when the adventure was still "fun"ish.
Fueled by coffee and adrenaline, we boarded our plane.  Sadly, the snowstorm outside caused a 70 minute delay, and because of this, we would now miss our connection in Atlanta.  Rebooked a couple hours later, our final leg got us home to Charlotte without incident.

Chris described this whole experience as brushes with the worst of humanity.  And I'm fairly certain I've done a good job showcasing the darkest points of our travel experience.  But I'd like to note that we encountered some amazingly compassionate people along the way:

  • The young man wearing a hoodie and Beatz headphones who allowed our family and a woman in a wheelchair to step in front of him at the rebooking counter.
  • The businessman waiting for the shuttle who offered us sweatshirts from his suitcase when he saw our kids shivering.
  • The retired teacher who berated the crowd on our behalf in a failed attempt to get us on the shuttle.  "Sorry...I'm a retired teacher.  Gotta stick up for the kids" she said.
  • The flight attendant who supplied us with extra cookies and kind words.
  • The foreign lady with a severe limp seated 5 rows in front of us, who came back to our seats and handed my kids activity books and colored pencils at the beginning of the flight.
  • The flight crew and pilot that welcomed Carter into the cockpit, let him push some buttons and presented him with "wings".
I'd like to think of the above acts of kindness when I recall this trip, but I probably won't.  I've already recounted our travel nightmare numerous times without mention of the many instances people went out of their way to be compassionate.   That's usually the way it goes, isn't it?  The purpose in writing this particular post isn't simply to rant about our experience, but to catalog the goodness we encountered along the way lest I forget it tomorrow.  Those people will never know what their small act of generosity meant to this tired, frustrated Mommy. 

And in the end, by the grace of God, we got home safely.  Needless to say, we all slept very well :)


20 comments:

Marcia said...

I'm so glad you did encounter the kindness in people, too. And, so happy you got home...

Lindsay Peterson said...

What a trip! So glad you had some "fun-ish" times sleeping in the airport. I'm sure the kids will always remember it! On a side note, did you get your hair cut? Looks cute!

Angie Schmidt said...

We too have endured the airport... I'm sorry you had to go through this with the kids in tow. It was hard enough on us!

Jackie Farnsworth said...

Your blog is so perfect! I love it! Plus, the kind gestures from complete strangers almost brought me to tears.

Mary said...

Good job of showing that God's Grace was with you every step of the way.

Karen Dohman said...

Sorry your travels were so upended but glad you still encountered some good in the world. Thoughts and prayers to you all on the loss of Chris's grandfather.

Jacqueline Steiber said...

I just want to hug you!

Steph Myogeto said...

Oh ... dear! We recently spent 19 hours either in a plane or the airport this week ..... I completely understand your pain!!!

Trish said...

Ish ish ish! Remember our stint in Denver? And thank you for the reminder that amongst the 'yuck' we too had so much Grace poured upon us. But it still was yucky! And I did report so much of it to the BBB!

Rick Olson said...

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. Whenever I've flown, I've encountered no major issues like you guys did. The only real delay was a few years ago when Debbie and I were in Chicago waiting to board a flight back to Fargo. It was delayed 3 hours because the plane we were to fly on was ground stopped in Springfield from flying into O'Hare because of an inbound traffic delay. Common at O'Hare because of the quirky weather and the sheer volume of air traffic coming and going. I was also delayed at Minneapolis St. Paul International once, as my flight back to Fargo sat at the gate while we waited for the flight crew to arrive who would fly us to Fargo. They were coming in on another flight.

Jamie Stavenger said...

Rick Olson Consider yourself lucky . We fly frequently, so the chances of flight mishaps is increased, and expected to a degree. When it's just me and Chris traveling, none of the inconveniences mentioned seem so bad. Throw in children, their needs and schedules, their limited entertainment and space on planes, and the inconveniences are amplified.

Terre Moss said...

Sorry for your loss! I wish I had known you were stuck, I would have had my Son get you out of the airport. I'm not Chris, but I'd say you guys are really good sports! Ha

Stephanie Brink said...

I love that you included all the great in a not so great situation. What an ordeal.

Tanya Wright said...

I love this post and your blog!!! Traveling with children is always an adventure; albeit a GREAT adventure; good circumstances or bad. I have several VERY similar stories (usually involving vomit, too ) involving delays, cancellations, and weather. However, I believe because of these experiences our children will be great travelers, they will know the positives and negatives of humanity (and choose accordingly hopefully!); and most importantly know the importance of God's grace. Love Ya Jamie ! Let's trade stories soon;)

Steven Ystebo said...

Carrie made it sound like you had a very pleasant trip home... haha jk. Thanks for sharing!

Mandy Weaver said...

Oh Jamie! I don't even have words--those horrible human beings! How could they have done that? Don't feel bad about venting--things like this should be told! I am sure God has a special reward for you in heaven for not going bat sh*t crazy on those people!

Zaundia Klingbeil said...

And to think, men let woman and children go first on Tue Titanic! When delay meant uncertain death... How awful!!! So sorry.

Elizabeth Nordstrum said...

Thanks for a good laugh, Jamie. We had a similar trip but actually made it to the hotel which I of course found plenty of things wrong with then but now am thinking - more comfortable than airport seats! Glad you are safely back home enjoying the comfort of your own home!

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