Tuesday, January 04, 2011

East coast ‘snowpocalypse’ delays flights, column


Note: This column appears in the 1/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/7 issue of the Peoria Times

Just hours before our plane was supposed to take off, while I was sleeping, my phone buzzed. It was a text stating that our flight was canceled. That was it. “Flight 1535 is canceled.” No word of a rescheduling, or what to do next, or how we’d get home. Just … canceled. As far as Continental Airlines was concerned, I would be living in New Jersey again.

We had a wonderful time with family and friends during Christmas and were glad we decided to travel back east. My niece and my in-law’s dog had thrown up on the carpet on separate occasions, but those were the only barf-related moments of the week, and that’s all you can really ask for. Really, it was great, but we were ready to go home. Despite the blizzard that wreaked most of its havoc directly on our little slice of New Jersey, our flight from Newark was still scheduled to take off on time. It ended up being the very last one canceled. The main reason we left NJ in the first place—extreme winter weather—was preventing us from leaving now.

Besides the snow itself, part of the frustration of living back east was that every snowstorm—each winter brings several—is met with the calm, reasoned reaction of a community dealing with its very first snowfall. The minute flurries are in the air, cars drive off the road and burst into the flames, schools close, and supermarkets are packed with panicked citizens preparing for Armageddon. The fact that this particular blizzard came somewhat suddenly, with more wind and snow than expected, threw everyone and everything into a tizzy. The few plows that could be found were plowing out tow trucks that were towing other plows. As I write this, some local neighborhoods still haven’t been plowed, its residents waiting for spring to leave home.

Continental followed suit and responded to this crisis as most Fortune 500 companies would—by shutting down all means of communication. Due to “increased call volume,” they cut off their phone lines, decreasing it to “zero call volume.” Their website gave no instructions, and seemed unaware a storm had even taken place. We were stuck.

We were desperately missing our dog, who was probably not missing us as he was staying at Pet Smart’s Hotel Resort and Spa (when I called to extend his stay, my emotions got the best of me and I said, “Throw an extra ‘Doggie Day Camp’ on our tab.” I am pathetic). We were missing work. We had a million things to do. We spent the next 24 hours trying to reschedule our flight to Arizona, and eventually had to settle on leaving New Year’s Day morning.

After a lot of sulking, we eventually realized that there was nothing we could do, and enjoyed the extra time with family. More time for our parents to spend with their granddaughter and more of my in-law’s cooking wasn’t such a bad thing anyway.

When we finally did make it back, it was colder here than in New Jersey. It was 50-degrees in our house, several devices were beeping as they had lost battery life, and half of our plants were dead or damaged from frost. Didn’t matter. We exhaled.

We went home for the holidays, but man—it feels good to be home. Anyway, long story short, that’s why I didn’t have a column last week. So … sorry. Or, you’re welcome. Whichever.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

did the storm in jersey prevent you from e-mailing your column to your office...... disgruntled reader, "Pat's Chair"

mkenny59 said...

Ha, ha! Touche, Pat's Chair. Actually, it was more my unfunny mood than the weather that prevented my from submitting my column. Also, my wife counters her blues with games of Bejeweled Blitz on facebook, so my access to the computer was limited. Thanks for being disgruntled!