The end of this week was a doozy. I headed to NYC to conduct an investigation with a week’s notice and because of other work, could not squeeze in a moment of NYC-related fun. (I did get some of my favorite Uncle Paul’s Pizza.) And, then it snowed. Big, sloppy snowflakes.
I got into my Lyft at 4:10 pm with Gurwinder and his trusty Toyota Corolla. Gurwinder is new to winter. He had never driven in snow before. While he thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with friends while he drove, he was anxious about the drive. By the time we got on the Roosevelt Bridge, half of the bridge was closed. The other half was littered with vehicles that couldn’t move because the bridge was too slick. Gurwinder took my advice to stay steady on the gas and don’t touch the break. He was calm – getting encouragement from me and a family member on the phone. In a trip that should take 35 minutes, we got to LGA in 2.5 hours. I relied on Gurwinder, and we made it.
Once at the hellscape that is LGA, I was the only person in precheck. I was definitely not the only person once I got past the friendly (not sarcastic) TSA folk. The restaurants were filled. Half of the flights were cancelled, and several other LGA-refugees had already claimed spots on the floor anticipating a long night. At D10, Delta clerks Deborah and Jennifer were optimistic. We were only delayed, and it had stopped snowing.
I found a group of friendly travelers with different destinations: two to Fort Lauderdale, one for Atlanta, another for Dallas, and then my soon-to-be partner-in-early-morning-Uber-rides for Minneapolis. We joked about my plethora of Peanut M&Ms, we cheered when planes were boarding, and shared iPads to order food, and kept each other updated on flight status. We had the best server who so friendly and concerned about our welfare. We were compatriots in surviving LGA.
My friend, Laurie, was also waiting with bated breath to see if she was going to get out. She ended up planing, then de-planing, and finally finding a hotel room before midnight. I am so lucky that she kept me in the loop in case I needed a spot to crash. However, I was confident I was going to make it home.
Once our gate changed, my new Minneapolis-based friend and I made the trek to the other side of LGA to wait with a new group of folk. There was the guy dedicated to fake wood-panel stickers on his phone and computer, the consultant ladies so dedicated to their work they entered their time into their software at 12:15 am, and the fancy lady with the velvet jacket and yoga pants.
Then our plane arrived at the gate complete with older woman in green velour track suit, matching green baseball hat, and fanny pack. She needed a wheel chair, but she embodied my life goals. With a fresh crew, we were ready to board. I cheered. One consultant lady commented on my energy, and I responded that Student of the Month was in a few hours and I needed to make it home. I was convinced we were going to make it.
Everyone got on the plane. People from a cancelled Chicago flight joined us. I sat behind a group of Delta employees – three who had worked from the airline since 1997. They kept me updated on what was happening, and it was not good. After 90 minutes on the plane, the bad news was announced – we were not going to take off. Someone had broken the lower cargo door. We had to get off the plane.
Then, even worse news hit. We were not going to take off until 9 am. Then not until noon. Then, we were cancelled all together. It was now 2:30 am. No hotel rooms left. (I didn’t want to wake Laurie.) No places to sit. No restaurants or bars open. Hundreds of travelers stranded with skimpy blankets and tiny bottles of water.
When Delta started sharing what flights we could get on, I wasn’t going to get home until 5 pm. I’d miss Student of the Month and afterschool hugs. I’d miss all of the work for the day. I’d be missing too much. So, my new friend and I devised a plan, where could we go to get on a plane home? JFK? No, in the same boat LGA was in. DC? No, too far. Philly? YES! She’d order an Uber, we’d drive through the rain for 2.5 hours, and get on an American Airlines flight to MSP. We’d be home by 10:30. I’d still miss Student of the Month, but I could still get hugs. A plan was made.
At 3:00 am, we got in MD’s RAV4 and started the long drive to Philly in the rain. We saw the desolate-ness of New Jersey at night. We contacted Delta to cancel flights. We snoozed on and off – not enough to get rest. I played a ton of Words with Friends with my law school friend. (He lives on the East Coast and wakes up super early.) Those games were a great distraction. (Thank you, Bill!)
At 5:30 am, we arrived at Philly. We stopped at Starbucks for an iced chai and hot chocolate. I snickered at the Xfinity employee who couldn’t get her TVs to work. Then, the plan finally came together – we got on a plane bound for Minneapolis.
When we got to MSP, my new friend waited for me to get off so we could celebrate making it and give each other a hug. We had made it. After being awake for 30+ hours, we were going to see our kids and take a nap.
While I was stranded, my friends stepped in. My great friend, Tammy, slept on my couch, held down my fort, and hoped that I’d make it home. When I didn’t, she woke up Ozzi, helped him with homework, and then got him to school. My friends, Karl and Katie, made plans to make it to Student of the Month so Ozzi would have a cheering section and people to snag him extra cookies. While he was upset I wasn’t there, he appreciated their embarrassing hugs. I appreciated the videos, pictures, and knowledge that my village really will help me.
And, this is why I’m recounting this story here. In work as in life, we rely on each other. My new friend and I relied on each other to get into a stranger’s car in hopes to make it through New Jersey in the middle of the night so we could get on another plane. We also relied on each other to keep our spirits high even if I cried through the documentary Quincy. My friends stepped in to keep my home fires burning and show my kids they are loved by many. We succeed through hard times by relying on the kindness of strangers, D10 servers, our friends and family. This reliance makes our workplaces better too. Be thankful for those around who you can count on.