By Leigh Powell Hines
I took a little trip to Springfield, Ill., last week.
It was quick. A short press trip for a story I’m working on for Skimbaco Lifestyle.
Springfield is the “Land of Lincoln” and famous for being on Route 66.
I slept well, ate well, and learned about Lincoln in less than 48 hours. Route 66 was not on my itinerary, so instead of seeing a roadway, I spent a lot of time in an airport.
Many people told me in passing that they avoid Chicago O’Hare in the winter. I have news for them. If you are going to Springfield, Ill., then you really can’t avoid Chicago O’Hare unless you want to travel about an extra three hours or so and go through Dallas-Fort Worth instead. Those are your options. Period.
When my press colleague and I arrived at the Springfield airport at 2:15 p.m., we were gathered in the lobby with everyone else. We were the last two of our press group to leave the area.
We were quite shocked to see that airport security was closed. You see, this airport is so small that TSA is only open at certain times of the day. We were there earlier than its opening.
We all were held in the airport lobby that included a Subway and a newspaper stand, which was closed on this Saturday and locked tighter than a drum, despite the public address system telling us that once we go through security there will be no restaurants, so “be sure to pick up a sandwich and a cup of coffee.” We heard that every 20 minutes.
Every time I heard that announcement, I craved coffee even more. I would typically pass on coffee from “Subway,” but this experience resembles being on a desert and seeing a mirage of water. Because this airport had a Subway on site, there was not even a vending machine to buy water in this particular part of the airport.
Our original flight to Chicago was to leave at 4:27 p.m. By 5:05 p.m., we were finally allowed to go through airport security.
And for the first time in my life, I was TSA prescreened for my flight, which would have been a perk at any other airport in the world because I would have been told to go to the area with no lines. Here it was just one big line when security finally opened.
When I picked up my luggage on the other side, my colleague and I went to look for our gate. After looking at our boarding passes and walking toward an area that looked like a dead end, we realized we were already at our gate.
It’s elementary, my dear Watson!
There is just one gate: Gate 4. It has three vending machines, including one coffee machine out of order.
I still couldn’t get a cup of coffee. Go figure. It was looking bleak for some of our fellow passengers. They were missing their connecting flights. No one could stay in Springfield another night because there was a big wrestling match and beauty pageant in town, and EVERY hotel room was booked, including the hotels where we all checked out.
The situation was dire.
I looked at my press colleague and said, “I have almonds. In fact, I have two big bags of almonds. You want some?”
Before having children, I would have been carrying a small Gucci bag with nothing in it but makeup and a wallet. That red Chanel lipstick would have made us look great, but we still would have starved.
With eight years of experience as a mom, I’ve since traded the Gucci bag for a lower-cost, large bag because a Gucci that size would just put me in debt. I still have my lipstick, just not as high-end as my life before kids. And the best part of all, no one with me will go hungry because I have a bag large enough to store a Big Mac and fries, if I wished.
Luckily, I had two large bags of almonds because the Chicago airport was selling two bags at $2 off, and I thought it would be a good idea to purchase them.
My new friend and I snacked on those almonds for hours. That was our dinner.
I bet my friend is so glad she took the late flight with the “Stay-at-Home” Mom who writes on the side in between car pool lines, basketball games, and dance classes because everyone else on the trip was a “dog” parent.
I bet a dog biscuit wouldn’t have tasted as good as my almonds.
And if you want to know the rest of the story, I finally arrived back in Raleigh at 1 a.m. It was just late enough to charge me for a whole new day of parking. My new friend got back into Minneapolis about the same time.
She upgraded to first class on her flight home, so maybe the flight attendant gave her some more nuts.
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