Tim Chitwood: You can fly home again. In a few minutes.

September 21, 2013 

They say you can't go home again, and according to the airline, they are correct.

I'm leaving, on a jet plane, but I do not know when. In a few minutes. Or not. The pilot will give us an update. When? In a few minutes.

I am in Denver, the Mile High city, where you don't even have to board a plane to join the Mile High Club, but we boarded anyway, and now we're screwed.

That's because this is a flight to Houston, and storms have moved in from the South, where we're going, and where it's now too dangerous to fly.

This is not the airline's fault. It can't control the weather. Even Congress can't tell thunderstorms what to do.

The airline can't control that, but it can control whether the flight is overbooked, and whether its workers freak out when believe it or not everyone who bought tickets tries to board the plane.

That's why we sat at the gate until the cabin crew stuffed in everyone who'd fit, and during that delay, the storms moved in.

But the storms didn't close the runway until we had taxied from the gate.

So we awaited takeoff an hour or so longer, and then the pilots decided to go back to the gate and let everyone off.

Which was a mistake, said an agent at the gate: The runway reopened. Everyone had to get back on the plane.

I turned around to go back. "Sir!" the agent barked. When someone yells "Sir!" I fear "Freeze!" is soon to follow.

It turned out you can't just get back on a plane. You must reboard, in order.

See, we can't let just anyone board a flight to Houston. Who knows who might sneak on: terrorists, homeless people, penniless pilgrims going to worship at the Texas Bush shrines (the G.H.W. Bush airport, Bush hotel, Bush gardens, etc.)

Before we could reboard, the flight crew's shift ended. By regulation another crew had to take over.

And here's how it went from there:

We got to Houston three hours late and I got a discount ($60) at a Motel 6, where I got up at 5 a.m. to take a shower, slipped on a slick spot (don't speculate) in the tub and landed hard on my wrist, which swelled up.

Wondering whether you can turn an ignition key if you break your wrist triggered the epiphany I forgot to pack my car keys, which were still in Montana, where I was on vacation. My car had to sit idle until the keys came in the mail.

For four days I walked everywhere, glancing over my shoulder, fearing with my luck I'd get hit by a car. Or a train. Or a meteor.

You can go home again, and find you're going nowhere. But you can't leave home, sometimes, so you might as well stay.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-0508.

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