"A climate of economic uncertainty" is a phrase I continue to hear and read in every one of my company's inter-HQ communication pieces, and cost-cutting initiatives are apparently one of the "strategies we are employing" to tackle such "uncertainty." Well, I do what I can to help out wherever I'm able, and recently, after a botched flight home on the one day of the year DFW sees snow, I had the opportunity to take part in one of those cost-cutting moves.
Here you will see Chateau Jackie O, compliments of Denver International Airport. I could have been curled up at the Hyatt in a cozy bed via corporate AMEX, but no. I decided those hotel rates for just 5 hours of sleep were a waste, which turned out to be the worst decision ever. And as I deliriously stared at the oddly tent-shaped ceiling of a strangely quiet and deserted airport around 2:47am, I wondered if this was what Stephen King did right before he wrote the book The Langoliers. It's creepy - no doubt. And wandering around to find your place of rest is even creepier.
However, as I finally came to the conclusion that the front of the ticket line in a dark corridor on a cold marble floor was my best bet for snagging a standby seat on the 6am flight out, I was gently reminded that Homeland Security had recently raised the threat level to orange and that any bags left unattended to should be immediately reported to security. And thanks to that reminder by a repeating message every 15 minutes, I was certain that leaving my post at the front of the line sans baggage would soon result in me watching security tote off my "abandoned" luggage @ 3am. So, I stayed, wrapped my head up in a coat, and waited until the counter was to open @ 4:15am.
When I got up to compose myself and wait for the ticketing agent, I realized 35 people had formed in a line behind me with the very same idea. For once, I was there first, and for once, I was certain I would get on the plane having outsmarted my other stranded travelers. As I zipped up my last bag while the agent started up the computers, a wave of satisfaction came over me. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the line for first-class starting to fill up. People who I had seen in the airport yesterday, looking much more well-rested than myself, as though the Hyatt shuttle had just dropped them off when the ticketing line was to open. And they were there, waiting to take my standby spot that I had slept in the freaking airport the night before to secure.
All I could do was sit there, watch them put their name on MY standby list, and wish with all my might that a Langolier would come out of nowhere and eat them alive. And my best guess is that one was well on its way, and only retreated once it saw the terrifying creature standing next to the first-class line, sleep-deprived, hair a mess, and shoes missing... it must have been obvious a much scarier creature had beaten him to the punch.