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Iíll be home for Christmas


Fri, Jan 10th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I'll be home for Christmas; You can count on me [Ö]I'll be home for Christmas If only in my dreams

Iím going home for Christmas! I am finally going home after being away from Minnesota and olí Fillmore County for four months. And after living in the city, I canít wait to see stars and expanses of fields, old tractors and gravel roads. Iím so excited that I leave for the airport two hours early because I canít wait to get home. When I board my plane from Boston to Chicago, I am delighted to hear that we are ahead of schedule, and should be arriving in Chicago earlier than expected. Excellent, I think to myself, Iíll be home even earlier! How naÔve I was. We were leaving the gate when something bumped something else and a light bulb broke on the plane. Well, it took half an hour to figure out whether anything else was damaged, then another half hour to see if they had a replacement bulb in stock. It takes yet another half hour to fix the bulb, and another half hour to actually leave the gate and get into the air. I now know the answer to the joke - how many airline technicians does it take to change a light bulb? We lose more time in the air, and Iíve only got a 1-1/2 hour layover in Chicago before Iím supposed to catch my flight home. Some hope returns when the stewardess informs me that the flight might still be waiting for me. When we finally land, I sprint off the plane and find the gate, completely deserted. I rush over to the customer service desk, designed to assist and aid helpless travelers like myself. "IóI was supposed to be on the flight to Rochester," I disheartingly sputter out.And without a pause, without a, "Iím sorry" or even a "WellÖ," she replies, "Hereís a hotel voucher." No, just wait a second! She doesnít seem to understand that Iím supposed to be going home tonight. Home, the thought that I had been comforting myself with for days; home, what I had been looking forward to for weeks; home, what I had been away from for four months! So, I ask her one more time, trying to confirm what I feared. "You mean there are no more flights to Rochester tonight?!?" "No.""Are there any other flights on any other airlines to Rochester tonight?""No.""Can I get on a flight to Minneapolis tonight?" "Well, I donít know.""Is there breakfast included in the room?""Well, thereís a sports bar in the lobby."I reconcile myself to the thought that I will not be home tonight. Tonight, instead of my own bed, I will sleep in a lonely airport hotel room. Instead of my family, I will be entertained by cable TV. But, alas, I tell myself, tomorrow I will catch the first flight out of OíHare at 8:25. In the morning, as the airplane left the gate and taxied down the runway, I breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, I think, ďIím going home.Ē But high winds have limited OíHare airport to two runways for both arriving and departing planes. That means that only one plane can fly in or out at a time. There are still 15 planes ahead of us, and the pilot informs us that it will be at best a half an hour before we leave. At this point, I am now thinking about how one could strangle oneself with oneís headphone cord. Half an hour later, a new update - there is low visibility in Rochester, and after checking with meteorological experts, American Airlines has decided to cancel the flight completely. Everyone, they assure us, will be booked on the next flight to Rochester. I left to go home on a 2-1/2 hour flight 21 hours ago. Whatís another couple of hours, I tell myself? My extended stay in OíHare airport was not completely pointless. During the year that I spent in the cavernous terminal, I think I read every single magazine. I am now the official expert on spring fashion trends, beauty secrets, and celebrity gossip. I now know the best gift ideas that I canít afford and the best CDs of 2002. After this enlightenment, I boarded the 12:00 flight, which was delayed for.. half an hour, the standard time frame for delays, and prepared myself for my actual, anti-climatic return. More than a full day after I left for home, I finally arrived at our home in the country. I was greeted by open fields and windy country roads. The pets ran out to greet me as I exited from the car - it was exactly the homecoming that I had hoped for. Finally, I was home.

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