Stuck at the zoo (I mean the airport!)

Happy New Year Readers! SHL and I just returned from a great 3 day trip to Florida. It was quick, but you can’t underestimate a change of scenery, especially when your landscape lately has regularly included icy cold temperatures and piles of snow! We got out just in the nick of time before this last storm, and stayed with Marla and her boyfriend Adrian for a few days of much-needed R&R down in Miami.

Unfortunately because of the storm, we got delayed coming home on Saturday night. I have to say, being stuck in an airport for 6 hours is a true test of patience, and I’m afraid that while I didn’t fail miserably, I didn’t succeed in curbing my crabiness as much as I would have liked either. As I looked around at what used to be the Fort Lauderdale airport, but what had clearly become a zoo with wild animals, it struck me just how self-centered people are, and it kind of sucked the energy out of me. What I wish is that when stressful events occur, people could rally together and be kind and patient with one another (myself included!), but it seems that very often that is not human nature (don’t get me wrong, I know that there are plenty of good deeds and kind people out there, but an airport full of stuck people after a huge storm is not typically where you see it). When SHL and I left Marla and Adrian’s our online flight status said that we would only be 20 minutes delayed, but by the time we got to the airport, we were delayed about 2.5 hours. We got in line to drop off our bag and figured we would at the very least have a leisurely dinner, but the line was barely moving, my back started to ache, and I witnessed people blatantly cutting each other in line, which is one thing that really ramps me up– injustice! One woman came into the airport with her family (Sean and I had already been standing in line for probably 30 + minutes at this point), and we watched as she took her kid’s hand, marched right up to the counter in front of people already waiting, and proceeded to somehow walk away minutes later with a boarding pass in her hand. Unbelievable! (We later saw her in line for food, so knew that her flight wasn’t leaving before anybody else’s. When the woman behind the counter went to take our order I muttered under my breath, “Oh, I’m sure this woman would love to order in front of us!”) Another woman who had been standing behind us chatting us up about hoping to get back to New York that evening somehow one minute was fine, and the next minute was sitting in a wheelchair in the front of the line ahead of everybody! I tried to conjure up Deepak Chopra in my mind, tried to chant a few “Om’s” and remember that I was with SHL, we would eventually get home, and all would be OK, but there was something about people behaving this way that really made my blood boil. I have been trying so hard to keep my stress levels down and to re-frame negative thoughts, and I found myself being incredibly challenged to do these things in this kind of a situation. It’s one thing to have your flight delayed for hours and hours and have to wait in line for an hour + just to check a bag, but it’s quite another to witness human beings act this way; it can be disheartening, and it takes a lot to remember that this was just a select few people who were probably panicked about being stuck in Florida for days, and their best just wasn’t coming out. I found that my best side wasn’t coming out either, especially when a new line formed to the right of us with people who were being served quicker than us, but waiting a shorter amount of time, and of course there weren’t enough Jet Blue agents to keep people in check or organize things properly. Fast forward another 2 hours and we were waiting for our crew to get in from another city and our estimated delay was now going to be about 5 hours, and my phone was dying. I looked everywhere for an open charging station, only to come to the realization that people were hoarding the chargers. Even if their phones or ipads or games were fully charged, they were sitting there all night plugged in, instead of letting somebody else charge their battery. Another X for humanity! I finally went to the closed-down food court and plugged in, only to be told that they were closed and I couldn’t even sit there and use their outlet. I hit rock bottom and went to the ladies room to charge and they were all being used! It was then that I had to let go that I would be able to use my phone, and instead I bought a fun magazine and tried to relish in not being able to connect to text or Words with Friends, but instead read about work/life balance and the best face creams. When we did finally land at 3:30am (4.5 hours from when we were originally supposed to get in), our bags didn’t come out for another 45 minutes, and I have to admit in my mind, I was already drafting an angry letter to Jet Blue with the words “what nerve” in mind! We finally dragged our tired butts into our house at 5am Sunday morning, and poor SHL had to go to work just a few hours later.

It’s difficult when you end your vacation on a note like that, after being so relaxed, but our trip was rejuvenating and most importantly just about having fun, if only for 3 days. We played tennis, sat by the pool, and soaked in the hot-tub. I started a new book. Adrian took SHL out on his boat, Marla and I got massages, and the 4 of us had an amazingly decadent dinner out on South Beach, kept toasty warm outside on the patio with heaters and encompassed by beautiful lush green trees, complete with creative presentations of food entitled “The Boarnie Madoff Bucket of Bones” (a bucket of succulent meat with dipping sauces with a side of a pig in a jail!) The Bernie Madoff and for dessert the Carnival Fun Cakes Carnival Fun Cakes So yummy and fun indeed!

So what I take from our time at the airport is that I guess even when you have cancer, you still sweat "the small stuff" sometimes. My patience was tested. My energy was sucked. It felt hard to let things roll off of my shoulders, like people cutting in line or having to wait for our bag after being delayed 5 hours. But more than ever I am aware of just how much I can really only control myself, and not others, and how important it is to try (even if you have a right to be frustrated) to re-frame negative thoughts and look for the gratitude (I was so happy that our flight wasn't cancelled!). But the truth? Since my blog insinuates that we can all handle it? Nobody likes being stuck at the airport. Period!

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