Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's Like "The Terminal"

Our day began with an air of ambition. The seven Cornellians (along with Ms. Kaplan and Mr. Ramsey) met this morning at El Cerrito High to begin their Ithican Journey. I stood in front of the school with mixed feelings about my situation at the time. On the one hand, I could not wait for our airport shuttle to arrive so that we could embark. On the other, I just wanted to go back to sleep so that I could catch more than five hours of wonderful slumber. But alas, I had to be rid of longings for sleep because I expect that my sleeping schedule will not be getting any better in the weeks to come. Nonetheless I was anxious to begin my life-changing journey.

By about 8:40, it was time to say our good-bye’s to our parents and jump into the airport shuttle. On the way to the San Francisco Airport, as I watched the plethora of iPad, Coca-Cola and Toy Story 3 billboards greet me and then suddenly wave fare well, I pondered what my experience over the next three weeks would entail. For the first time ever since I learned that I would attend the Freedom and Justice Course, my head was spinning with thoughts of how my short-lived Cornell life would pan out. All of a sudden, I wanted to know if I would have a roommate, if I would remember what stand a certain philosopher took in a certain situation, if we would even get a chance to see the “Hotellies” after Sunday, etc. It was a little overwhelming.

Before I knew it, we had arrived at the airport and we were checking our luggage. Our time in the terminal was a whirlwind. We began at the security checkpoint. Surprisingly, the line moved fairly quickly and we were soon walking through the metal detector. Mr. Ramsey then treated us to breakfast at the Yankee Pier. We were in a huge rush, though, because we only had half an hour for a waitress to find a place to seat the nine of us, figure out what we wanted to eat and then eat. Luckily our waitress was more than accepting of our tight schedule and we promptly received our food. This was my first impression of airline food and I have to say that it wasn’t bad (at least not as bad as everyone makes it seem). We made it out on time and arrived at our gate shortly so there was nothing to worry about.

The first plane ride was nothing special. My activities included reading Plato, the Sermon on the Mount and the novel I brought with me. Reading occupied most of my time. In between works, I sketched a little bit and played some games on my iPod. This flight, even though it wasn’t extraordinary, was the highlight of my day. We landed around 5:00 PM (Chicago time).

It all went downhill once we arrived at the Chicago airport. Upon arrival, we discovered our flight to Syracuse had been delayed until 8:00 PM (from about 6:00). We then wandered around the terminals searching for a restaurant without a line extending across the food court and that could seat all nine of us. Eventually (after circling for what seemed forever) we stumbled upon a Macaroni Grill. We enjoyed a lovely meal and had fun relaxing. I played hangman with Chris and Dyana while we waited for our food. We were all having a good time until Mr. Ramsey returned from the flight board with tragic news: our flight was delayed even further…

At that point, our flight was scheduled to board at about 9:10. This was not a comforting thought considering it was only 6:30. We finished our meal at the Macaroni Grill and headed out once again. Upon passing more flight boards on the way to the restroom, we realized that the flight was also departing from a different gate! Our troubles seemed endless (and they still do). After wandering around for another hour or so, we found our gate. I was relieved until Mr. Ramsey brought horrid news once again. Our flight was delayed…AGAIN! This time it was delayed until 10:30! At that point we all just sat down, prepared for a long wait and began to blog about our day of never-ending snags.

As I began this blog, I realized that I didn’t have one picture taken from the day. Luckily the sun was setting and we had a beautiful view of the runway. I took advantage of my good fortune (ha ha) and snapped the picture you see below.

This picture is probably the only bit of good fortune I have had today. Even this shot has its downside though. Only two seconds after I got the picture, lightning flashed in the background. I literally sat, mouth agape, and pondered just how bad my timing was.

My heart soared within the next twenty minutes after taking the photo. They had changed the boarding time of our flight back to 9:00, and it was about fifteen minutes until we were supposed to board! So I packed up my laptop, camera and tripod as fast as I could and rushed down to the floor below. We began waiting patiently for our boarding announcement… that still has not come. Right now it is 10:49. I am extremely tired and I am just about ready to set up camp in the terminal.

In case you haven’t picked up on it by now, the title of the blog is a reference to the movie The Terminal. I have never seen the film, but from what I understand, Tom Hanks has to live in an airport terminal. The nine of us have been here for about five hours now. I’m about ready to rip my hair out (which would be a blessing to some people). I really don’t want to make this blog any more negative than it already is, so I’m going to cut off my rant here.

Until tomorrow (which will hopefully be a much better day) this is Alex Elms and I’m signing off.

1 comment:

  1. Alex,

    This is an outstanding first blog [PD) for the 2010 Cornell contingent. [PD stands for Post Departure to differentiate those blogs written after boarding the shuttle from those written before departure.]

    There's no way to write this and come across as sincere but nonetheless I'm going to write to you all that I feel your pain. :-) Some of us have been stuck in airports and most of us have read reports of such mishaps but unless you've gone through what you've all had to endure, I suppose you can't possibly appreciate fully such a wonderful start to your adventures in Ithaca.

    At the very least, you'll have some great stories to tell for years to come.

    And by the way, the Tom Hanks movie you referred to was really a pretty decent movie. The Tom Hanks character came from an Eastern European country that had a coup while he was on his flight to NYC. Once he arrived, his passport was no longer valid and since he had no country to go back to, he was stuck betwixt and between. He actually lived in the airport for many months until his country was once again recognized by the rest of the world and he could go home.

    The movie was based on a real life guy who became stuck on Orleans Airport in Paris for many months.

    Before you get all excited by the possibility that your own adventures might be turned into a movie, keep in mind that what happened to you is now a very common occurrence. It would be like making a movie of a group of nine people who went to the grocery store--it's so common place that instead of being extraordinary, it's ordinary. Sorry to the burst the bubble.