Queens, NY, USA
As I've gone from place to place, I have had to deal with many stresses of travel such as delays, and platform and terminal changes quite frequently. So, in turn, I have become quite good at keeping myself relaxed and entertained in whatever bus stop, train station, or airport I happen to be. That is, however, with one major exception: JFK airport in New York City. Whether it be the terrible surrounding traffic, the incredibly long and slow lines, constantly getting groped (or as they say, 'patted down') by security, or the fact they expect you to pay $15 for a soggy, old sandwich, going to this airport throws me into a stressed out frenzy, like that of a dog realizing it's on its way to the vet.
One time in June 2015, however, I arrived at JFK feeling excited. I was about to fly into Amsterdam and meet friends before going onward to a backing trip through Eastern Europe. That day, it seemed as if nothing would get me down. I had been planning and saving for this trip for nearly a year and not even the greasy, angry guard roughly running his hands up and down my pant legs at the security check, nor the hundreds of businessmen on the verge of a violent panic attack could effect me. I was about to start the trip of a lifetime.
Eagerly, I boarded my plane, ready to start my adventure. I had fantasised about a big trip like this since my childhood and now it was actually happening. But unfortunately, the plane, did not share my enthusiasm. I sat there like a ravenous bear along a river waiting for a salmon, but for some reason, my fish wouldn't appear. 7:45pm (our alleged departure time) passed and still nothing. I began to feel anxious.
Anger began to build among the passengers, and the airline staff's reassurance that we were going to take off shortly was no longer convincing.
Midnight now. The anger was erupting throughout the plane and metaphorical bear I used to describe myself earlier, had now collapsed next to the river and began to writhe in pain. Shouts rang out up and down the isle.
"What the hell is going on!?" Exclaimed a balding man in a wrinkled blue shirt.
"Sir, will you please calm down." Insisted the flight attendant.
"God damn it! I'm gonna miss my connecting flight!"
Suddenly, in a quite casual, nonchalant tone, the pilot's voice sounded over the loud speaker.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you our flight tonight has been cancelled. We hope to have a replacement ready some time tomorrow."
Tomorrow? The metaphorical, starving bear I had used to describe myself before, realized now that there were no fish, used its last bit of strength to hit its head repeatedly against the ground.
The delightful mood I once had was now shattered and replaced by anxiety, uncertainty and anger. Frantically I asked every staff member if they had any idea about what was going on, but to no avail. 1:00am rolled past and still nothing. I should be soaring across the Atlantic enjoying a complementary drink, but instead I was sitting down on the disgusting gum-stained floor of a JFK terminal.
Finally, just as I was in my throes of despair, we got an answer. They were going to bus us to a nearby Holiday Inn in Queens and then pick us up tomorrow at 8:00 in the morning and shuttle us back to the airport for attempt 2. I didn't know whether to feel relieved or even angrier with the news. On the one hand, we were finally going to get out the airport, but on the other... Holiday Inn and Queens. The combination seemed about as appealing as a Vaseline and mayonnaise sandwich.
After another long wait, I finally arrived at the hotel around 2:30 in the morning. The metaphorical bear had now completely given up and resorted to sticking its head in the river to end the misery. Finally I exhaustedly flopped down on the crusty old bed with the tacky off-green sheets, only to soon be aroused by the 7:00am wake up call to get ready and head back to the airport.
Unshowered with frazzled hair and circles under my eyes as dark as the night sky, I stumbled back through the doors of JFK and went to check in for the new flight.
"Sir, it turns out there were no direct flights to your destination today." Said the moustached man at the desk. "You will have to have a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland and a second in Paris before going to your final destination."
At first, I thought I was going to yell and start ripping my hair out, but instead I just laughed. It had all gotten so absurd and exhausting that I all I could do was throw back my head and cackle. Either that or I was losing my mind. Anyway, an eight hour flight had now become fourteen.
As the trip passed, I drifted from place to place, barely aware of my surroundings anymore, struggling to maintain just enough coherence to make my next flight. Some say the Iceland airport is beautiful and the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is incredibly interesting. I however, wasn't able to notice or remember a thing.
Once the last plane landed. I collected my things and stumbled out into society for the first time in what seemed like forever. Unable to enjoy the surrounding Dutch metropolis, I saw my friend Matt waiting for me in the arrivals. I stumbled over like a drunken gambler, down on his luck and about seven pints deep.
"Jeez dude," said Matt. "What happened to you?"
"JFK airport sucks." I replied.