The storm came into Philadelphia fast and strong. Grounded planes hung their heads and bedded down for the night. A line of 30 people formed at the customer service counter within seconds. After a while, some teenagers produced fiddles from black cases and the people in line bobbed their heads to “Blackberry Blossom”. I didn’t want to wait in a line 30 people deep so I went to the ticketing desk on the other side of the airport. I re-booked my flight and waited. I did that four times and watched the CANCELED sign flash over and over. The airport became quiet and a lone Starbucks employee dimmed the lights. Finally a series of announcements from the gate agent:
Your flight is coming in from Cleveland and should be landing in six minutes.
Your flight is delayed.
Could ya’ll get out your phones and see where this flight is? I can’t locate this plane.
Due to fog, the flight had never taken off from Ohio. Worried, fleeting eye contact with my fellow stranded passengers turned into perplexed stares and the sharing of individual plights. A wedding, a conference, a reunion. A bearded man announced that he worked for the Golf Channel and he would be renting a car and driving to New Jersey. If we wanted a ride, he would get a van. No charge. His employer would pay.
At that point, I figured I was either going to be the victim of a serial killer or I was going to be stranded in the Philadelphia airport for the night. I couldn’t decide which was worse. Six of us headed for the Hertz counter and the Golf Channel guy snagged the last van on the lot. He drove through the last of the storm, navigating the slick dark roads and miles of orange construction barrels. He dropped me at the Newark Airport and I managed a group selfie, all damp hair and exhausted smiles. It turned out, after all, to be the city of brotherly love.
Jennifer Shneiderman is a landlady living in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in many publications, including: The Rubbertop Review, Nanoism, Writers Resist, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Daily Drunk andThe Perch. She received an Honorable Mention in the Laura Riding Jackson 2020 Poetry Competition.
image: MM Kaufman