It was a unique situation, but there my wife and I were, laying next to each other on the hard floor trying to get some sleep. No plan B, no other options.
As I lay there I thought of how unique this was for me to experience this. Yet I thought of all the others who’ve lived life night after night having to sleep on a hard surface.
I thought of the refugees from Ukraine who would be just glad to get out of a war zone. I thought of the homeless whose manner of living at this stage of their life is sleeping on the hard ground. I thought of Auschwitz, a place we had just visited and how the prisoners in the concentration camps had to live life sleeping on hard wooden boards. I thought of those in the military who had to spend nights on cold hard ground as part of their duties serving our country.
My thinking of others, although helping me put my situation in perspective, didn’t help me get to sleep. As a matter of fact, all my wife and I could do is to rest with our eyes closed. There had to be about twenty five others in the same situation - stretched out, trying to sleep. A few of them had couches, but most of us were left to fare for ourselves on the floor.
I checked e-mails on my phone and then Facebook postings. Not many who sleep regularly on hard surfaces would have this luxury.
So let me explain. We’d been in Europe on two back-to-back tours for a month and were excited about flying home. We left Munich airport at 9 am on a Monday morning planning on landing in Charlotte, connecting to Dallas, and then sleeping in our own bed in Roswell that same night. That is, if the connections all connected.
The ten hour flight into Charlotte went well and we landed with energy. We went to the American Airlines Club to relax and enjoy some snacks and wi-fi. Our next flight did not leave for six hours until 8 pm.
We were ready to go and loaded the plane on time, only to be told by the cabin crew that we couldn’t leave until a pilot arrived. Well, fifteen minutes became thirty, and thirty became 45 minutes. We only had a 40 minute connection in Dallas/Ft. Worth to make our Roswell flight so we soon became concerned about making it home.
The crew had us deboard the plane and sit in terminal, waiting to find out when our plane would be leaving. It was posted on the screen behind the counter at 9 pm, then 10, then 12:30 AM. American Airlines messaged me and told me that they were rebooking my next flight. I was moved to an 8:55 flight the next morning from DFW to Roswell. I wasn’t wild about this, but it was the least worst option left.
A pilot was finally found and the flight from Charlotte was able to leave at 12:30 am and, after almost two hours, it landed in Dallas just before 2 in the morning Texas time. So there we were in an empty airport, about five hours before we needed to be back at the airport for the next flight home.
I asked the American Airlines representative what hotel they were going to put us up in. They said they didn’t have any rooms left and that I needed to find my own place and then ask for their “capped” reimbursement.
I asked them what hotels we had the option of and they said they didn’t know, just to call them. It was 2:30 in the morning and I was calling hotels near the airport with the same responses from each, “We don’t run a shuttle this late” and “we are booked full.”
By now it was 3 am and I checked on when the American Airlines’ Admiral Club opened. It opened at 5 am. If we could make it two more hours we could have hot coffee and a nice breakfast before getting to the terminal for our flight home by 7:30.
We were directed to a place we could rest upstairs to an area with some soft chairs and a few couches. They were already filled with others having to spend the night at the airport also. So we found a spot and laid on the hard ground and closed our eyes...
Neither of us could sleep, but we were together and that was all that was important. We tucked our backpacks under some cushioned chairs hoping they would be safe and laid on the floor facing each other. We were able to look closely into the other’s eyes, give each other a kiss, and tell each other that all was fine since we had each other.
It was a long two hours until the Admiral’s Club opened. We were the first to enter and, after having a hot breakfast, we went to the back room with full lounge chairs designed for tired people to sleep and rested until we had to go to the terminal.
After a 32 hour day and a sleepless night, we were the happiest people on the plane to see our home airport and know we could control the final leg of our journey with our drive from the airport home.
My challenge to you today is to be grateful when things don’t go wrong. When things turn out well, we take them for granted. I would rather have the perfect trip home with nothing eventful to talk about than to have a story to tell.
When you lay in your soft warm bed tonight, turn off the lights, and close your eyes, don’t take the comfort of your home for granted. Thank God above for everything you have and that you can put your head on a pillow. There are many across the world who sleep on a hard pillowless surface every night. They accept this and they don’t complain.
As you take a global view of the world, whether you are thankful for what you have or disappointed for what you don’t have, you have the same things. Your experience in life is based on the way you see the world.
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org:email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.