Below is the submission received for the open blog call for the Holidays.
The story is titled “Christmas at the Airport” written by Wendy Vorpahl. The last comment is that this is a True Story. Enjoy!
Empty shops. Wide open walkways. Once in a while a person lugging a suitcase. All we could hear were the sounds of Christmas music as we slouched in a lonely looking group of chairs, wondering if Scott’s plane was ever going to arrive. The last place a 13 year old girl wants to spend Christmas Day is in a nearly-empty airport in Milwaukee, yet there I was stuck with my Dad and 11 year old brother. Could Christmas day be any more boring?
It was Christmas Day, 1986. My brother Scott learned that it was cheaper to fly on Christmas Day, so he booked a flight home to Wisconsin for that day. My mom was convinced that my younger brother and I were just going to sit in the living room all day and stare at the Christmas presents under the tree, so she forced Jon and I to go with Dad on the 2 ½ hour ride to the Milwaukee airport to pick Scott up. Dad had it all planned out-we would get to the airport just before Scott’s plane was scheduled to land, pick him up, and immediately make the lengthy drive home. I was mad at mom for making me go along on the ride, so as we got to the Milwaukee airport I was hoping things would go like Dad planned. No…such…luck.
We arrived about 12:30 pm. Dad drove our car to the short term parking area, and the three of us made our way inside the airport. As we waited, we stood by the large windows and gazed at the other jets that were landing. Scott’s 1 pm arrival time came and went with no sign of his plane in sight. With our patience fading, Dad asked Jon to check the screens to see what the status was on his flight. When Jon returned the look on his face told us that he was not about to give us good news. “Dad, Scott’s plane had to make an emergency landing in Kansas City. Now his plane isn’t gonna get here until four..twenty..three.” Those three hours sounded like an eternity to my young mind, and when I found out that Dad brought as little money as possible with him, those hours seemed even longer yet.
We hadn’t had lunch before reaching Milwaukee, and we were hungry. The only place that was selling food in the whole airport was a remote ice-cream shop. All that Dad afford to buy was one ice-cream cone, so that was what the three of shared for our ‘Christmas dinner’.
Now four twenty three passed, and still no sign of Scott. We learned from the airport staff that another passenger on Scott’s flight from Texas to Wisconsin had a heart attack on the plane, and that is why the plane made the emergency landing in Kansas City. Scott finally arrived in Milwaukee about 6 pm Christmas evening. After Scott gave us hello hugs, the next words out of his mouth were, “I am never travelling on Christmas Day again.”
Because of how long the afternoon seemed, I forgot all about Dad parking in short-term until it was time to pay the parking fee. “That will be $22.50,” the attendant told Dad. (In today’s dollars, that same fee would be about $48.00.) “WHAT?! TWENTY-TWO FIFTY?!” Dad bellowed to the attendant. The attendant, obviously annoyed by Dad’s reaction, curtly replied, “This is short-term parking, sir!” After Dad reluctantly plucked the dollar bills from his wallet, Scott gave the attendant a sarcastic “Merry Christmas!” as Dad sped away from the parking booth to make our way to the highway home.