A Writer's Cramp entry
| Cherilyn Atkins was in a rush to make her flight. Early this morning, she checked on the computer her flight's ET.A. It was on time. She hailed a cab and asked the driver to please get her to MBS as soon as possible. She told the driver to drop her off at the American Airlines terminal. Her flight was set to depart at 4: 45 PM. She arrived at the terminal at noon. She went to the desk to show her boarding pass.
After the pass was punched and her passport stamped, Cherilyn proceeded to the long security line. Glancing at her watch, she thought she had plenty of time before she began worrying. The long line snaked its way from the gate, past six other gates, through the airport snack bar, finally ending where Cherilyn entered. Time seemed to fly by, but the line didn't seem to shrink.
While waiting, Cherilyn noticed people cutting in the line, babies and children were crying and getting restless. She rolled her eyes and displayed looks of disgust at others who were cutting in the line. it seemed as if the line was creeping along. Glancing at her watch for what seemed to be the millionth time, she read 2:45. She was six gates away from her own. She began to worry that she would miss her flights. From here, she had a connecting flight at LAX in Los Angeles, then her final flight to Honolulu..
At 2:45, Cherilyn was at Gate 3. Her flight would be leaving from Gate 6 at 4:45. She checked her flight's status and was met with an on time status. She had never been through this before. This was her first time flying after 9/11. It was now when she began to worry. To pass the time, she began to plan her trip that she was waiting for all her life. She suddenly felt hot and dizzy. She wondered if she'd pass out.
One hour later, airport personnel began bringing out cots for weary and angry passengers. They only brought out sixty cots. Parents hurried to claim them for their children. Cherilyn noticed three TSA agents walking away from the gates. She heard a man ask one of the agents where they were going. Their response was that their shift ended. When asked if there were replacements, he was met with shoulder shrugs.
This was very disheartening to Cherilyn and the other passengers. Many grunts and groans were met with apathy and ignorance. The knowledge that she would miss her flight was making Cherilyn very upset and scared. She didn't know what or how to reschedule a later flight. Tapping the shoulder of the woman ahead of her, she hoped to find answers.
" Pardon me. I don't mean to bother you. Could you answer some questions for me? I haven't flown since 9/11, and I'm going to miss my flight. How do I get another flight along with connections?"
"Unfortunately, I'm just as clueless as you ma'am".
The color drained from Cherilyn's face. For her and the lady ahead of her, another woman who was a bit ahead of both of them, had the answers they sought. The three women began exchanging information. This made the time speed up. By this time, it was 5:30. More cots were brought out and assembled.
"Well, it looks like we're in for the long haul. Does anyone want anything from the snack bar? It's my treat.", Rose said. Rose was the lady with the answers. To Cherilyn, Rose seemed calm, cool, and collected. Seeing this calmed both Cherilyn and Donna, the woman in front of her. The three women formed a bit of an alliance. They got to know each other, talked about their respective journeys, and their future plans.
Since their impromptu friendship began, Cherilyn looked at her watch again, and now it read 9:45. The line had moved up more but not significantly. The terminal quieted down except for children talking loudly or crying. She and her new friends stayed together. They took the three cots on the far wall. They each took turns getting food, drink, and any necessities.
The other passengers saw this alliance and slowly joined in.and formed other alliances. By 6:30 the next morning, what began as a chaotic, unruly, crowd became a sociable group. Unbeknownst to Cherilyn or anyone else, the local news was told about this incident. Soon, they were being interviewed and video was taken.
At 8:30, Cherilyn, Rose, and Donna were at the front of the line. It took more time to get the women on respective flights and connections. Rose and Donna had to go to different gates. They bid a friendly farewell to Cherilyn and ran to their gates. Cherilyn was cleared through security and had a new boarding pass. Adios MBS and Aloha Hawaii. This would be a experience for her book of life.
It turned out that the reasons for the delays and the stagnation was because some passengers were stopped and had to go through manual pat downs. After that , some passengers became ill and had to be tended to, and two agents called in sick unexpectedly. There wasn't enough time to get replacements. It left the area with only two agents.
Although it took Cherilyn seven more hours to reach her hotel in Hawaii, her vacation was extended by three days This was courtesy of American Airlines in response to the delays that occurred. Cherilyn kept in contact with Donna and Rose. What started as a day from the devil turned into a day of long lasting friendships. Cherilyn not only learned the dos and don'ts of flying post 9/11, she also cemented friendships she never looked for.