FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Entire Lives

Saturday, August 15th, my best friend Joan drove me to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. I had a reservation to fly to Albuquerque to visit my son J, his wife L, and the darling-est grandson, Mr. Poop. I breezed through security without having to remove shoes, toiletries, or laptop, stopped at the board to check the flight, expecting to see “On Time” or “Delayed”, but instead read “Canceled.” Walked to the TSA desk and was told to proceed to the gate. The line to talk with an agent was Disneyesque and moving glacially.

No airline employee interacted with those of us waiting for information. I phoned J, told him the news. He said he’d see what he could find, called shortly after, and said Twitter was aflame with outraged travelers. No explanation. I heard people nearby mention the possibility of a terrorist threat. Eventually, J texted that there was a power outage or technical glitch at a tower near D.C.

I called Southwest’s toll-free number to hear the message that I could receive a call back in 82 minutes.

The adorable coed in front of me said to her mother, “My entire life is in that checked luggage.” I told her that her “entire life” was simply on hold because her luggage wasn’t in transit.

People were scrambling, on their phones, trying to find an airport with outgoing flights, and then talking (among their group) about securing rental cars to a particular city.

I heard someone say, “I don’t want to buy the plane, I only want to inquire about a charter.”

So many people, wanting their needs met.

And I thought of the millions of Iraqi and Afghanistan refugees, forcibly displaced by war, the horrifying legacy of U.S. foreign policy, entire families forced to leave their countries to find safe haven, men, women, children, many who were infants, toddlers. Women who’d just given birth or whose due date was the day that fleeing was necessary. The sick, the elderly. The horrifying legacy of U.S foreign policy.

I considered the estimated 9 million Syrian refugees who’ve left their homes since the Syrian civil war. Human beings who take nothing but their children’s hand and perhaps a small bag with water, an article of clothing, something meaningful, just one item. Maybe the address of a relative who’s left months or years prior—a name scribbled on a piece of paper. This is an “entire life.”

And there we stood, Saturday, August 15th, the privileged, with our phones, our tablets, our access, bitching about a canceled flight.

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail