The smell of the man from Zimbabwe’s cologne–like a nightclub, only it’s 5am and you haven’t had coffee or breakfast yet and you will sit next to him for two hours. You will not dance. There is no dancing when the Captain has turned on the fasten seatbelts sign.
The germs–on every door handle, water fountain nozzle, counter edge, and ticket passed between hands.
The delays–6:20am departure, 7:48am departure, 12:55pm arrival, 2:36 pm arrival, 3:55pm arrival into a city you weren’t supposed to go to.
The haze–There’s Starbucks. There’s Chili’s. There’s Hudson’s News. You’re in O’Hare, right? Scratch that, Charlotte. Which one has free wi-fi and which one has the 20-minute limit?
The hope–$500 voucher if you’re willing to idle for 48 hours. $350 voucher if you’ll sleep on the carpet stains at Gate H12. $300 if you’re a fool.
The sound of the Captain’s voice–Wahh waa, wahh waaa, waa. Waah waaa.
The sound of the jets– [ ]
The color of Lake Michigan with 80% cover ice–frozen teal, rippled and whipped like a frosted cake.
The feel of fake leather–crooked seat after crooked seat, as though you are in the shadow of a man with an incredibly large left ass cheek and he has sat in every chair before you, all afternoon. At least you have a seat tray in front of you. Unhook the latch. Go on. Try it. (It crashes down, crooked as well.)
A day later, 90 miles further north in a car (since you landed where you weren’t supposed to), half a mile hike on snowshoes up the mountain (luggage in tow), it’s all worthwhile: