Once Upon a Delta


Mental health has never been a strong point of mine.

In undergrad I used to fantasize about going to prison because I enjoy firm mattresses, you don’t have to pick out your own clothes, and they give you books.

Sometimes I think a stay in a drug rehab clinic would be a nice vacation, but my only addictions are knitting and downloading sheet music, and those aren’t covered by Obamacare.

I’m twenty-four-years-old but own a stack of coloring books.

I have an irrational fear of vomiting.

The rest you can ask my psychiatrist about. Actually, you can’t, because HIPPA’s a thing.

You can see that mental health isn’t my forte. But it wasn’t until today that I realized that I am literally clinically insane, where the definition of insanity is completing the same action over and over again with the expectation of a different result.

Today I booked a Delta flight.

Now, there is nothing inherently “insane” about booking a flight with Delta. The insanity comes with booking a Delta flight after being warned of others’ experiences, experiencing a Hell-flight for yourself, and then expecting the next time to be different.

Having been warned of Delta’s reputation for Hell-flights, I take full responsibility for my experience. The flight was affordable, and I figured that as long as the plane didn’t crash or disappear over the Indian Ocean, I could handle whatever Delta threw at me. After all, it wasn’t Malaysian Airlines, and unless Long Island chose to secede, the odds of flying over a war zone were pretty slim.

I haven’t underestimated my coping abilities so severely since freshman year when I ate that calzone before running a half marathon.

My flight was scheduled for 6:00AM. Not trusting myself to wake up on time, I decided to stay overnight at the airport, which of course required first that I actually get to the airport.

I have vestibular migraine disorder, which means that I am extremely susceptible to motion sickness. So much so that I have to take ridiculous amounts of medication to ride in a moving vehicle. Otherwise my brain thinks that it’s having a stroke, the world is ending, and the Second Coming is upon us.

Naturally, I took a bus to the airport, without any medication, after not having been on a bus or in a car for five months, in West Yorkshire, where there are hills.

If you’re from central Ohio, you of course do not know how to drive up a hill, or probably, even what a hill looks like. To drive up a hill, you cannot drive straight up the hill. You have to drive all around the hill in all sorts of crazy twists and turns while the driver taps his foot on the brake, presumably to some sort of imaginary dubstep.

By the time the bus arrived at the airport, my arms and legs were shaking uncontrollably from my brain going off the fritz, and I was trying desperately not to throw up. But having tackled the most nauseating part of the journey, I figured it couldn’t get any worse.

The first two flights went as planned, and when I arrived in Detroit, I was eager to get home to Columbus. Not only was I excited to see my friends and family, whom I hadn’t seen since I left for the field in July, but I was definitely looking forward to going to bed. I had stayed up all night in the airport, and then for the duration of the flight (I never have been able to sleep on planes, and besides, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was on T.V., how could anyone sleep?).

News of the first delay came at about 3:00PM. Now, a good rule of thumb for flying planes is to make sure you have people there to fly them. But of course, things happen, people run late, and the crew wasn’t there yet.

News of the second delay came at about 4:00PM, after an hour of being told that we’d be boarding in “about ten minutes.” The problem this time? A mechanical malfunction.

Ok, fair enough. I’d rather mechanical problems be discovered before we’re seven miles above the Earth.

But then it took another half hour to decide if they could fix the problem, or if they should just get a new plane altogether. When it was decided that they could fix it, the problem, which was a parking brake malfunction, was repaired, and we were permitted to board.

After we were finally on the plane, we were informed of the third delay. This time, the crew could not find the paperwork stating that the brake had been repaired. Turns out you’re not legally permitted to fly without said paperwork.

Once they finally found the paperwork and it was signed by all the relevant parties, we thought we were on our way.


They were waiting on one more passenger, and then we could pull away from the gate.

I am generally not a violent person, but when that passenger arrived on the plane, hair dishevelled, bags open and everywhere , I wanted to shove her boarding pass up her nose holes. Oh, and you get one carry-on bag, lady, just like everyone else. ONE.

We still weren’t moving. Why weren’t we moving?

The pilot came over the PA and announced another delay. There was too much fuel on the plane, and it was too heavy to fly. We had to wait for the defueling truck.

I pulled out my cell phone and sent my brother a text message. He was supposed to be picking me up from the Columbus airport, and our plane was supposed to have arrived already.

He texted me back to say that there was a miscommunication, and Delta was reporting that we had already landed.

Not quite.

Then the pilot came over the PA again. The defueling truck had arrived, but it was broken and was defueling more slowly than it should be, but we should be off the ground in half an hour.

I was hungry, and tired and wanted to cry. It felt like I hadn’t slept in ages.

Then I felt bad for wanting to cry. Some people never get to go on an airplane at all, and at least I’ve been on enough of them to know this is not ideal.

I was beginning to wonder if the plane was even going to fly, or if we were all going to die in a giant fire-ball.

I prayed a Hail Mary just in case.

Somehow, by the grace of God, or presumably because more competent people got on the plane and took over, we eventually took off an arrived safely at Port Columbus International.

The airport was all but deserted by the time our plane arrived. I hurried down to baggage claim, where my sister hugged me and lifted me off my feet.

Getting carried away in the excitement of being reunited with my family, I hardly noticed the distress of the other passengers, at first.

But then I was informed that somehow, despite the four-hour delay, Delta had failed to get the checked bags onto the plane, and our luggage was still in Detroit.

“Well,” I said, lying down on the airport floor in resignation. “At least the plane didn’t crash.”

Condemned to spend the evening in my sister’s underwear and pajamas, I vowed to stay up and wait for my bags, but having been stretched to the limits of my patience, I fell asleep on the couch, and didn’t even hear my phone ring at 2:00AM when Delta called to tell me my bags were delayed…


About digs_teeth

Hello! Please accept my condolences regarding whatever happened to your local library. That's why you're reading this, right? Because your library burned down/was robbed by book bandits/was torn down and made into literacy rehabilitation clinic for sad teenagers? I hope your library is up and running again soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the words that I made by rubbing my face over a keyboard. I am a master's student studying Osteology and Paleopathology in the UK. I've worked on archaeological excavations in the U.S., Ireland, and Croatia, and I have spent time traveling in Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Hungary. I've carefully recorded my fieldwork in the form of journals and other necessary paperwork, but I have done little to document my interactions with the people I meet. To me, recording and cherishing interactions is just as important as recording the archaeology.

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