In the Ruins of British Airways
It took me thirty-seven hours to travel from Heathrow to Philadelphia. Our plane sprung a fault on the runway, could not be repaired, and there were no replacement flights, and no spare capacity.
It took BA four hours of queuing to get me a replacement ticket (via Baltimore). It was like seeing the last days of the Roman Empire: every staff member making logical explanations for why he or she was not responsible, how it was always “they” who were to blame for lack of attendants, chairs, options. I was informed, in a tone of high righeousness, that the actual terms and conditions on a ticket give you no rights at all. They don't even have to get you to your destination on a plane, apparently.
I spent the night in a hotel, and in the afternoon flew to Baltimore. My visa was approved; I am back in the US. But my connecting flight had already closed for checked in bags. In Baltimore airport, new BA staff proceeded to inform me of my lack of legal rights and their lack of responsibility for my problems.
Fortunately, another passenger, a police detective, called a friend in Philly, who drove down in a flat bed truck, picked the two of us up, and drove back.
Exhausted, I sat in the back seat, trying to stay awake, strange hallucinations waving in front of my imaginary eyes every time I let my real eyes close. I remember a grinning man running alongside the truck, staring in through the window, and an old lady in a night dress standing in the road.
Then the driver asked me about my PhD, and I woke up, my brain switching back to reality and talk. I got into my old house on Pine street at two am.
Now I am meeting old friends and hanging out in lovely Philly again. Tennessee comes quickly.
Best wishes to you all,