Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Airports and waiting

I've waited a lot in airports over the years.

In Abidjan, waiting hours for a plane to arrive so I could leave Africa for, or so I thought, the last time.

In Nairobi, waiting for a plane so I could leave Africa for, or so I thought, the last time.

In countless other airports, waiting to leave.

Yesterday, I waited for an arrival.

Cat, home from uni.

I waited only an hour or so, while her plane circled overhead, unable to land. The airport firefighters, after months of difficulty - don't ask me what, they weren't even negotiating - finally downed tools and refused to work. (I won't say 'went on strike' because I don't know if that is the official term for what they did. It would be in my book, but we're into the complex and incomprehensible world of industrial relations here.)

The airport - airside - shut down. Planes stood on the tarmac, loading vehicles were abandoned by their drivers. Nothing moved out there.

Inside the terminal, people sat, stood, wandered, walked, argued, complained, chatted - as much on mobile phones as to each other, drank coffee, and gazed out at the silent runway.

I prayed. The option for Cat's plane was to return to Stansted. Her option was to go back to Norwich and be stuck in England for the next few days. I prayed.

Her plane was diverted to Jersey. Sadly, by two minor medical emergencies, precipitated by the long wait in the air. She was put up in a hotel and is enjoying a tiny mini-break. Staying in hotels isn't something that students usually do.

She's been desperate for a holiday. She's getting one now! I'm glad, even though I long to see her.

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