Yesterday, my wife was flying standby on her way home from a trip out of state. About 30 minutes before I needed to head out the door and get to the airport—a 50 minute drive—a string of intense thunderstorms raced through the Dallas area. Even as I drove down the highway toward the airport, I listened to reports on the radio of wind damage, massive power outages, and flooded streets near my destination.
My original worry of not making it to the airport on time due to traffic was washed away as flights in and out of Dallas were either delayed or cancelled altogether. Her flight had been pushed back to who knows when, but it was too late to turn back and still be certain that I would be where I needed to be if and when her flight finally left the ground.
The 50 minute drive ended up totaling a little over 2 hours—including a pit stop for some dinner. Once I got inside the airport, I learned her plane now had a pending departure time a full two hours later than the original scheduled arrival. Originally, I thought I’d barely be making it on time, so I didn’t bring anything to help me pass the time—nothing but a half empty and quickly dying cell phone, that is. [Phone power 53% and falling. Flight estimated arrival: 8:10 pm.]
So what to do when you’re stuck in the airport with nothing to do. How could I make the time productive and interesting?
After over an hour of people watching, surfing Facebook on my phone, and walking the public areas, I remembered that there were likely several pens in the glovebox of my van, so I went out to take a look. Score! I couldn’t find paper, so I breezed by the airport info booth and snagged an employee parking flyer that was on the floor, a trolley transit flyer, and found my wife’s itinerary folded up in my pocket. Score!
Three pieces of paper doesn’t sound like much, but I write fairly small. That’s were these words I’m typing up now originally came to life. The words didn’t come easily at first, so I took some time to people watch and check Facebook on my phone again. [Phone power 44%. Flight estimated arrival: 9:15 pm.]
By the way, the speakers in this airport are really messed up. All the live announcements are garbled and the music all sounds like really bad 8-bit dub step. Magically, the prerecorded TSA announcements are clear and pleasant. Maybe government can do something right after all… [Phone power 39%. Flight estimated arrival: 9:25 pm.]
The funny thing is, I come up with ideas to write about all through the day, but it’s usually when I’m in the middle of something and can’t stop to write. I’ll jot a quick note somewhere and get back to it later. But here, sitting in this airport with nothing to do for hours, I’m a complete blank. So, I’m writing this rambling piece instead. [Phone power 33%. Flight estimated arrival: 10:45 pm.]
Oh! a blog post idea about goal setting! You’ll have to read it some other time…
I took some time to write my thoughts out, texted with my wife, and called to check up on my kids. Battery power is getting critical, so it was time to turn off all non-essentials. [Phone power 22%. Flight estimated arrival: 11:10 pm.]
I spent another fairly successful hour filling up most of the remainder of my three blank pages. In the end, my wife’s flight landed at 10:40 pm, and battery power sitting at 17% as we walked out of the airport.
In the end, I learned my lesson. Never again will I head out the door for any destination where I might end up sitting around without taking my go-bag—my backpack filled with my laptop, iPad, a book or two, and chargers!
What’s in your go-bag and how often do you take it with you when you leave the house? What are your ideas for staying productive in a non-optimal situation? Please share in the comments.
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.