Saturday, February 13, 2010


Men tracht und Gott lacht (Men make plans and God laughs). - Yiddish proverb

I’m writing this from the warmth of Chez Elisson... which means there has been a Change in Plans. For She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had scheduled a trip to our nation’s capital this morning, there to visit Elder Daughter and survey the remnants of Snowpocalypse.

Alas, it was not to be, thanks mainly to yesterday’s storm, a storm that dumped all of about three inches of the White Shite on us. It’s not much, but apparently it is enough to bring the entire operations of the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (whew! that’s a great big honkin’ mouthful of an airport name) to a grinding, shuddering halt.

I logged in to the Delta website late last night and checked us in for our 8:25 a.m. flight, at which time there was no indication there was anything amiss. And the airline asked for (and received) updated contact information. Presumably, if they had to cancel our flight, they had any number of ways to tell us about it. But they did not... and so we headed off for the airport at the Butt Crack of Dawn.

With the local roads sporting a thin glaze of black ice and frozen slush, we elected to make the ten-mile drive to the Dunwoody MARTA station and take the train to the plane. That was a wise choice, especially considering the heart-stopping fun we had negotiating the hills and curves enroute: Taking the freeway all the way to the airport would have given my sphincter a permanent clench-spasm.

We rode to the airport in the pre-dawn darkness. As we approached the airport stop, the eastern horizon was lit up in gorgeous colors of deep blue and red, the twinkling lights of aircraft on their landing approach visible against the impending sunrise. When the announcer came on the PA system to tell us we were arriving at the airport, so struck was she by the sight that she said, “Ladies and gentlemen, look out your left window - isn’t that beautiful?” (Would that ever happen in New York?)


Once we arrived in the Delta terminal, we quickly discovered that things had, overnight, gone all pear-shaped. Our flight - and about 90% of the others - had been canceled. No phone call, no e-mail, no nothing. And the terminal was packed with harried travelers, queued up to reschedule their flights. Packed, indeed: the line was folded in upon itself in the manner of Disneyland, and we were told the wait was over three hours long.

Alla those “XLD” flights? Not a good sign.

A handful of foreign departures was still flying, and an even smaller cohort of domestic flights. Other than that, nothing. That miserable two inches of snow had somehow kept almost every airline from putting planes in position to handle the morning’s departures, and from there, things must have rapidly escalated into Clusterfuck Territory.

As we stood in line - for no obvious reason except to preserve the illusion that we were accomplishing something - I tried to get American Express on the phone. And after an interminable period of holding, all the while with some bouncy, jazzy On-Hold Muzak blasting in my ear, we managed to establish that we would not be getting to Washington any time soon.


Rather than fly up late tomorrow for an abbreviated weekend (and the risk of getting snowed in on Monday), we elected, reluctantly, to biff the trip. And so we headed back to the northern end of town, seated comfortably on our MARTA train as the whole north-south axis of Atlanta flashed by, incongruously daubed with snow. By this time the sky had turned a brilliant blue; the contrast with the trees, still completely white-encrusted, was startlingly beautiful.

MARTA Snowscape

That’s the magic of snow, I suppose. As much as it can be a royal pain in the ass, it offers a certain amount of visual compensation - especially here in the South, where it doesn’t stay around long enough to become grimy, grey slush.

Almost before we knew it, we had arrived at our destination, the Dunwoody MARTA station. Not the morning’s intended destination, to be sure, but a destination nonetheless, where we would salve our Elder Daughter-missing hearts with hot coffee and a lazy day under the covers. And the gradually thawing roads welcomed us home.

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