17 June 2009

Taking up residence at O'Hare

I haven't even left Chicago yet, and already I have a story.

My flight out of O'Hare was at 10:45 this morning, I was to get in to Miami at 2:45, then fly to Quito at 5:55 arriving at 8:55 pm. I was to meet my friend Dara, who is coming to visit for the first week I'm there, at the Miami airport. We were on the same flight, sitting just two seats away from each other by random chance. We would check into my favorite hostel, the New Bask, say hello to my friend Segundo, maybe grab a beer and head to bed.

That was the plan. But, since I had to leave my apartment around 7 in the morning to get to the airport with a comfortable cushion before my flight, and since I had to clean out my room for my subletter and pack everything I'll need for the next six months, I didn't sleep last night. I didn't trust that I would wake up in time. I have a talent for sleeping through alarms, and this would not be the day to sleep in.

So I stayed up all night, caught a cab and passed out until he pulled up to the ticketing counters. I came into the airport, talked to some friends, got breakfast-- no coffee, because I planned to sleep for the entire flight-- and then went to my gate to wait for boarding to start. As I sat there trying to pass the time, I kept nodding off to sleep but waking up when my neck decided not to support my head anymore. My flight was delayed 10 minutes... 20 minutes... and then, all of a sudden, there were only four or five people sitting at the gate. I looked at my watch, and an hour had passed. It was 11:30. My plane was gone.

I went up to the service desk and told the lady behind the counter what had happened. Immediately, she said "Oh, you're Smith." They had been paging me over the airport loudspeaker for ten minutes before the plane took off, but as I said before, I have a talent for sleeping through alarms. The next flight to Miami would get me there at 5:10, possibly giving me enough time to make my connection to Quito and reuniting with my friend. But it was already overbooked by nine tickets. The only flight I could get on was at 5:30, and then the next flight to Quito was Thursday at 3:30. It would have to do.

I called Dara and explained to her what happened, and American Airlines changed her flight to match mine, neither of us being charged a fee. The blessing in all of this: I'm spending tonight in Miami Beach, going to the ocean, relaxing in 80-degree tropical weather, and tomorrow I still get to go to Ecuador.

Now I'm waiting at the gate and my eyelids are almost as heavy as they were before my first flight... but this time I have the internet to keep me awake. Wish me luck.

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