How To Love An Unplanned Layover

The unplanned eight-hour layover in Chicago had been surprisingly good.

In Terminal 3, I’d found a seat in the sunlight, treated myself to salty snacks, got ahead on some work, texted with pals.

The layover hadn’t begun well; unplanned layovers usually don’t. When my flight to Chicago landed, the gate wasn’t ready. Ten minutes, the pilot kept saying. An hour later, I felt like we were waiting for a kid trying to find the perfect outfit who kept on yelling, “Just a sec!” down the stairs.

After we deplaned, after I sprinted through three concourses, after the unsympathetic gate agent told me my flight was closed, after the unsympathetic customer service rep told me the next flight wasn’t for eight hours, I felt royally sorry for myself.

This is CRAP. Why do I have to pay the price for tarmac foul ups? And nobody cares!

Then, awareness so quiet, it would have been easy to rage over: I care.

Which led to another awareness: And I don’t want to spend the next eight hours of my life righteous, vinegary, and fighting reality.

Well, I figured, if no one cares but me, then me will care for me.

So, I cared for myself, like a parent cares for a kid who can’t find an outfit they feel good in.

Babycakes (a nickname so absurd, it defangs some of that self-righteousness), I told myself, I’m sorry this happened. I’m sorry you’re stuck here for eight hours. I’m sorry you’ll get in so late. I know this isn’t how you wanted to spend your day.

And I saw that what I’d needed - all I’d needed, really - was sympathy. I’d gone looking for it from gate agents and customer service reps, not realizing I could give it to myself.

So when I did, when I gave myself the love I couldn’t find around me, I ended up with a surprisingly pleasant eight hours in Terminal 3.

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