I hop out of my Coach USA bus at O’hare’s bus terminal [and refuse the urge to alter the lyrics to “Party in the USA”]. I throw my teal backpack over my right shoulder – get thrown off a little by its heft – and march to Terminal 3.
“I’m so glad I read the O’Hare reviews on www.sleepinginairports.com,” I think to myself. There’s a rumor that they put out cots for travelers at Terminal K, which HEY, is where my flight to Ft. Lauderdale (and then ultimately to Lima, Peru) is leaving from early the next morning.
…Of course, one needs a ticket to get through TSA and to actually get to Terminal K. Knowing it can’t end well, I try my luck at the Spirit Airlines counter, where of course the ticket agent tells me it’s too early to check-in for my flight. I realize I’m going to have to snooze right here in the middle of the airport, surrounded by empty check-in kiosks, the lingering TSA people, and some questionable folks who seem to have no luggage nor purpose. But who am I to judge? I look just as weird.
Happy I loaded seasons 5 & 6 of Seinfeld onto my trusty little MacBook Air, I nestle into a little area behind some abandoned wheelchairs, and fire up the 1st episode.
—sometime around 2 AM–
I open my eyes, lights in the airport still on, with no one much around. OH – except for that dude sitting directly to my left… “hey dude, did you know there’s a whole airport for you? Why did you have to choose the seat right next to me?”
I get up and head to the bathroom, brush my teeth, floss (I didn’t just spend the past 8 months making endless visits to the dentist, HELLO), and change into some more comfortable clothes. I settle back into another row of comfortable-only-because-it’s-not-the-floor airport chairs, and doze off.
—sometime around 3:30 AM–
My earphone must’ve fallen out as I shifted in my sleep, and – OH MY GOD – I’m surrounded by a huge group of people who look way too energetic for 4 AM,, and also a little like they’re ready for a Caribbean cruise. I think, “Why are you being so loud,” screaming at them in my mind, and decide the floor is the only place someone won’t bother me. I move a few paces down, lay down my red fleece jacket for some cushion, and curl up between a pillar, the glass divider, and another row of seats, and doze off again – this time, I snooze solidly until my alarm sounds.
It’s time to check-in for my flight!!!!!!!!!
My excitement subsides, as it naturally does when I find myself behind some straight-up bozos in the TSA line. Now, I’m a fairly modest person, but I think I’m a damn efficient traveler – especially when it comes to going through the TSA security process. I have it down to a science:
- Take off all outer layers, drape over arm
- Remove laptop, tuck under right arm, and remove bag of toiletries, hold with teeth
- Remove shoes
3a. Wait forever while the bozo(s) in front of me take forever to follow the aforementioned steps
3b. Oh, wait some more – they forgot to take off their watch, belt, etc.
- With my free left hand, grab 2 grey bins, plop my backpack, jacket, and toiletry bag in one, and my laptop in the other
- Sigh heavily (it’s annoying to others, I know, but I just can’t help it) because the bozo in front of me has placed 3 bins on the table, empty, and is slowly removing his/her shoes.
- Rush around said bozo because a huge space opened up in front of them and they’re not moving.
- Race through the body scanner, hands in a perfect diamond above my head, grab my things, briefly wish every airport had a Recombobulation Area like Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, throw everything back on, and walk confidently away to my gate.
Now, off to Ft. Lauderdale for my connecting flight to Peru – and the solo journey through South America begins.
Author: Mary Louise Halling
Author Bio: A New York City transplant living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, enjoying the heck out of life and trying to put as much love into the world as possible, but recognizing sometimes we get a little cynical. I strive to be a social justice advocate, and believe in the magical abilities of travel to connect people on a deep level. I love yoga, coffee, good beer, reading, and spending quality time with people different from myself.
Link to social media or website: https://excusemyidealism/