Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sleepless in Atlanta

Well, that Atlanta trip back in April certainly proved that I can handle both the unexpected and a severe lack of sleep.  I should do just fine as a teacher in China!

Owing to severe storms, my flight leaving Lynchburg was delayed twice.  Instead of departing at 5:45 pm as planned, it wound up being after 8:00, which meant that I had to change my connecting flight in Charlotte to a later one.  That flight then got slightly delayed.  We took off around 10:00 pm and had a highly white-knuckled flight to Atlanta.  I have not experienced so much turbulence since my harrowing flight in the Philippines a few years ago!  It was like being trapped inside a stormy pinball machine.  The plane bounced to and fro, while lightening flashed all around it.  I admit, although I am a seasoned flyer, that I had to say more than one prayer that the plane wouldn't crash!

Once we got to Atlanta, the plane had to circle, as Atlanta was not allowing anyone to land.  After nearly half an hour, the pilot announced that Atlanta had closed and evacuated their airport, and we would have to return to Charlotte.  Everyone on the plane groaned quite loudly!  We had an even more stomach-churning flight back, as the storm had worsened (this was the same storm system that spawned multiple tornadoes, one of which practically wiped out Ringgold, GA).  When we returned to Charlotte, we were able to land, but not to disembark from the plane.  In our absence, Charlotte airport had also closed and evacuated!

After spending more than an hour stuck in a landed plane, with a wild storm going on outside, the airport finally figured out what to do with all of us passengers.  They announced that we would be leaving for Atlanta as soon as it could be done safely; in the meantime, we had to wait in Charlotte's abandoned airport.  We all made mad scurries for electrical outlets, as EVERYONE had electronics (mostly cellphones) that needed recharging.  I found a secluded area a ways from our gate and settled myself on the floor to recharge my own phone, which had died.  From my iPod, I managed to email in and let my new employer know that I would be very late arriving in Atlanta.

Finally, we flew out to Atlanta again, crossing our fingers and hoping that we would actually get to land this time.  Having pulled an all-nighter the night before in order to finish my thesis, I was now completely exhausted.  After landing in Atlanta, getting my rental car, and driving to my hotel, I finally checked in at 5:30 am.   I had been awake for 46 hours straight.  I caught a two-hour nap, showered, then grabbed some expresso from Starbucks for breakfast and went in for my all-day psychological examination (it was to determine if I have the mental stability/stamina to handle life in China for two years or more).

Clearly, I am less crazy than my family and friends think.  Despite all that went on before it, I passed my evaluation with flying colors and got the green light for China!  A few weeks later, I was officially hired by the school and signed my contract.

No comments:

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"