Waiting at the gate

airline gate
image courtesy of Unsplash

I have long maintained that the middle gates at the airport are purely for decoration. I believe their waiting areas are filled with paid extras placed to make an airport seem more profitable than it actually is. I say this because no matter where my work sends me across the globe, my gate is always one of the furthest from the security checkpoint. I guess it is also the airline’s way of protecting passengers from blood clots by ensuring they have plenty of exercise prior to boarding. My travel arrangements on this latest business trip proved to be no exception.

After weaving out of what felt like miles of pedestrian traffic, I finally made it to my departing gate. Looking at a nearby monitor, I was delighted to see that my flight was on schedule, which is a phenomena almost as rare for me as getting a flight out of a middle gate. I glanced at my watch. Shew.  I’d made it with only a few minutes until boarding time. I began jockeying for position in line as an attendant stepped up to the microphone. Let’s get this trip over with.

“Umm… ladies and gentlemen… er… I have been told your aircraft is on the ground, but… um… we just don’t know exactly where it is on the tarmac. But we’ll get it turned around and send you on your way just as soon as it gets here.”

A collective groan swelled through the waiting area, mine included. How can you lose a plane? Especially today? Ugh. Whatever happened to the glamour of air travel? I looked at my fellow passengers. They looked as frazzled and travel weary as I was. A woman across from me dressed in sweats and hair astray slouched in her chair as she passed along the update to someone on the other end of a phone call. “This has been the longest day ever…I just want to get home.” Another turned around and made his way to the closest bar. As I looked around the waiting area the words of the poem, The New Colossus, came to mind. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The words that so aptly described those of us stuck in airport purgatory that evening are the same that adorn the Statue of Liberty. They are the same words that for years have greeted family after family as they made their way into America. But now they no longer ring true. The borders are closing. We are more selective with who we let in.

My plane eventually arrived at the gate. I made it to my destination and back home again, but for so many, their dreams for a better life might now seem like my plane – lost somewhere out on the tarmac. Without hope, what options will they have? I recognize that we have our own problems. We don’t have resources in place for those who are already here. We can’t prevent those who wish us harm from intermingling with those possessing more honorable intentions, but I worry that desperate people will do desperate things and we will only be trading one problem for another.

Humanity learned to fly and even touched the moon. Surely we can find an answer to another impossible problem.


I may have one tiny problem

All was quiet in the deep dark wood, a mouse saw a nut and . . .

What! A mouse! Jumps on ottoman.

I am not a morning person, so imagine my delight as I noticed a small dark shape run across my kitchen floor only to disappear behind the couch first thing Monday morning. This is not how I like my Adrenalin served. Admittedly it might not have been a mouse. I’d only caught a glimpse of movement in my peripheral vision, but I really wasn’t keen on validating that first impression with another sighting.

No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from!
– Charles M. Schulz

Lamont assured me that he would take care of the problem as soon as the boys were safely at school. I went to work and attempted to settle my nerves, however, all I could think of was the witch from Hazel and Gretel. “Nibble, nibble, little mouths. Who is eating my house?” Yes, I would be the witch in this example. And sure, one could argue that she was asking for it when she made a whole house out of gingerbread and candy, but let’s not get side-tracked blaming the victim.

When Lamont arrived home, he brought a highly recommended trap, which he placed near where I thought I saw our little uninvited guest. A day passed. Then another. There has been no sign that the trap has been disturbed in any way.

Gaming Mouse
Image courtesy of Flickr

Now the paranoia is starting to set in. Each thump, bump, creak, or tap of the house settling is making my heart race. What was that?! Oh, just the neighbor kids playing kickball nextdoor. I hadn’t enjoyed my coffee yet that morning. Now I am starting to question myself. It was a Monday. Had I really seen anything at all? Or is the creature simply mocking me?

The whole incident has reminded me of a story I read a few years back about a rodent infestation on a massive scale. An estimated two billion rats were displaced as land was developed. Considering there has been only one unverified sighting in my house and I am freaking out, it is hard for me to imagine how someone could even start managing that kind of issue. I would likely be frozen in some combination of disgust and terror. So what did they do? Go with the knee-jerk reaction? Call in the national guard? Torch the countryside? Poison every potential food / water source? No – someone got creative.

Problems are only opportunities with thorns on them.
– Hugh Miller

The powers that be created a contest for the best recipe featuring, yep, you guessed it, rat. Some of the recipes proved to be quite popular, and soon area restaurants couldn’t pay the locals enough for the rats to keep up with market demand. In addition to eliminating the rat problem, the locals were paid handsomely and stomachs were filled. It was a surprisingly organic and elegant solution for what appeared to be an overwhelming problem.

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.
– Douglas Adams

However, I have no intention of trying out one of those recipes any time soon. Just because their solution worked for them, doesn’t mean it will work for me. The point is that by thinking creatively and trying something new, they were able to come up with a solution that not only solved their immediate problem, they were able to address two other issues that on the surface were unrelated.

Progress is obtained only by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems. When you solve problems, all you do is guarantee a return to normalcy.
– Peter F. Drucker

The trap remains baited, but now I am seriously considering caving into Kiddo’s demand and bringing home a terrier, or at least borrowing the neighbors. I hear pets are good for reducing stress. In any event, I am open to any creative solutions (minus recipes).

Mouse catcher
Image courtesy of Flickr