Laughter is Contagious

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Traveling during the Thanksgiving holidays should be an Olympic sport – it requires strategy, endurance, and the occasional sprint. This Thanksgiving, JP and I miraculously made it from Austin to Seattle-Tacoma without a single delay. The return home…not so smooth.

JP flew home before me and had his flight from Dallas to Austin cancelled. In the face of having to spend the night in Dallas, he managed to band together with other frustrated Austin-ites to rent a van and drive the 3 hours from Dallas back to Austin.

I made it to Denver with only minor delays, but my traveling fortune started to look like it was slipping away when my flight to Austin (the last flight of the day) was delayed…and then delayed again…and they delayed again. So I grabbed my dying iPhone, found an outlet in front of my gate, plugged in, and started surfing the web for wedding decorations for my sister’s upcoming wedding – while trying to pretend that the continued delays weren’t happening.

I was so distracted that I didn’t notice another woman who had sat down on the floor next to me to share the outlet. All of a sudden she started laughing out loud. It surprised me and she noticed me looking over at her. “I’ve had a long day and my family is sending me funny texts to keep my spirits up,” she said. It turns out she had started her day by leaving Cedar Rapids, Iowa very early that morning. Her flight was delayed and she ended up missing her connection in Denver, so she not only switched flights but also switched airlines in order to get back to her small town outside of Houston. That flight had been cancelled, so they put her on the flight to Austin…which meant she was now on that last flight of the day and then had a 2 hour drive home after landing. Suddenly my day didn’t look quite so bad.

Maybe it was the fatigue or maybe it was her family’s texts, but each time our flight was delayed, the woman burst out laughing. Pretty soon I was laughing along with her, and then it spread to the young woman sitting next to me who, as I found out later, was making her first flight since moving to the United States. By the time we actually made it onto the flight, the fatigue was still there but the stress was definitely not. We waved goodbye to each other and headed home.

 

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