The Delay

Photo by Kate Benz The Delay
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Oh, they are getting me to Dallas,” the woman says, white earphones plugged into a black Samsung. “I mean, seriously, a windshield wiper motor? Like, they couldn’t have figured out that was broken last night? When the plane landed?”

Welcome to Pittsburgh International Airport! As a reminder, ticketed passengers only are allowed past the ticketed passengers security checkpoint. Thank you.

It sat overnight,” says another woman who is sitting nearby, ignoring the looping announcement from the PA system that repeats itself every two minutes. “It was dry last night. They didn’t know it was broken until now, when they turned it on.”

When they turned it on, the plane, it was around 5:30 a.m. An hour before it was supposed to fly out of Pittsburgh to Dallas. Three hours ago.

Southwest is having a week.”

Yeah,” someone chimes in. “But good thing it’s not an engine blowing up. Or someone getting sucked out of the window. I mean, my God.”

But why can’t they just get the parts from like, United? I mean, honestly.”

Well, they said they have to fly the mechanics in from Maryland or something. They’re coming up with the parts.”

Oh. Mechanics?”

Yeah. And then this weather. The snow. I mean, my God. But I’m just glad it’s a windshield wiper and not an engine blowing. I mean, my God.”

Please watch your step. The moving walk is nearing its end. Thank you.

Caution! The moving walk is nearing its end. Please prepare to exit and watch your step. Thank you.

It’s not just a windshield wiper that needs replaced, it’s the motor for the wiper, too,” explains the ticketing agent to another woman in a white North Face jacket, also ignoring the announcement on the PA system, which has been looping every two minutes for the past three hours. “The parts have to come in from Baltimore and then it’s a two-​hour fix for the mechanics under perfect conditions. Do you want to cancel? I can give you a $200 voucher, but I suggest you take a picture of it just in case it gets lost. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. And here’s a $10 lunch voucher to use at any of the vendors here. No, I know. I do. I’m sorry…”

This isn’t going to work,” says a man as he approaches the counter. “I have a one o’clock appointment in Dallas. I might be able to get out on American… or maybe my client can meet me later. It’s hard to say. He’s a great client, but everyone is busy, you know? And can you believe this snow?”

No,” says the woman in the North Face jacket. “I can’t.”

If anyone who is still here at the gate has not received their voucher, please form a line here so I can give it to you. It will take a minute or two, but I want to be sure you get your voucher,” the ticketing agent announces, pausing.

For those of you flying to Los Angeles, we are now going to route you through Atlanta,” she continues. “Any passengers en route to Los Angeles, please step over to the counter so we can get you routed through Atlanta.”

I had an appointment at one with my client, but I don’t think that’s happening,” the man says, checking his watch. “Even if I fly out on American, that’s an 11:30 flight.”

You won’t make your appointment,” the woman points out, taking off her jacket. “American is the only direct flight to Dallas?”

Yeah,” he says. “I’m going to wait it out, though. I mean, parts get here, probably like half an hour to fix, really. I mean, how long could it take? They’re saying 1 p.m. but that’s just an estimate. They always like to estimate it.”

For those of you connecting through Dallas to San Antonio, please…” The ticketing agent pauses. “Wait, what?” she asks the other agent. “Oh. Yeah. That’s what I thought. For those of you connecting through Dallas to San Antonio, please come to the counter so we can get you on another flight. No, sorry; you’re on standby. You don’t get a voucher. Sorry.”

Caution! The moving walk is nearing its end. Please attend to children and watch your step. Thank you.

Please watch your step. The moving walk is nearing its end. Thank you.

I don’t think I’m going to make the appointment. It’s already nine o’clock,” the man says, checking his watch again. He pulls his iPhone out of his pocket, dials a number, sighs, and rubs his eyes. “Cancel the car rental, the hotel, Southwest, and forget about American,” he says into the receiver. “I’m coming home.”

Kate Benz

Kate Benz has been a professional writer for the past fifteen years with bylines appearing in The Tribune-​Review, Pittsburgh Magazine, Table Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, and LOCAL Pittsburgh Magazine. She is also the author of an “Images of America” book on the history of Cranberry Township. When she is not writing, you can find her thoroughly enjoying a co-​dependent relationship with her dog or taking long, romantic walks down the makeup aisle.

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