From all over America, thousands of Steelers and Packers fans found it almost impossible to get to Arlington, Texas for the Super Bowl game to be played on Sunday. Some are telling travel hell stories straight from the play books of the comedy film "Planes, Trains and Automobiles".
One weary traveler stranded at Columbus International Airport Friday night was overheard telling his wife, "We'd have more luck playing pickup sticks with our butt-cheeks than we will getting a flight out of here before daybreak."
Sam Whetsack, an investment banker, and his wife Mildred had planned on arriving in Dallas a couple of days before the game when they found out their Friday morning flight routed through Chicago had been cancelled.
The Whetsacks were only one couple in a sea of thousands whose only chance of making it to Dallas might be hitching a ride with a rental van full of Mexican migrant workers making their way to the tomato picking fields in Arizona. Melissa Sizedee, a college student traveling with her sorority sisters to the game was sitting on the floor at Chicago OHare on a beach towel she'd grabbed out of her bag. Sizedee was visibly shaken by the whole ordeal.
"Now I know what it is like to be homeless and living on the streets. If it weren't for the hope of finally getting to Dallas and my nice warm room at the Hilton, I'd turn around and ask mummy and daddy to come pick me up-could someone pleeeeze go get me another double espresso con panna?"
All over the country, the rich travelers were feeling the inconvenience of not getting exactly what they wanted when they wanted it. Dick Hedley, traveling with his wife and three children, was extremely vocal about the perceived lack of service he experienced in trying to get from New York to Dallas. Hedley had been stranded in the airport for more than an hour when he demanded the airline put him up in a hotel and pay for all meals until his flight left. The ticket agent explained to him that it was only a two-hour delay, at which Mr. Hedley replied, "Well, add another hour to that, and we may as well consider ourselves homeless."
In fact, the word homelessness was bandied about quite frequently by the well-off travelers as they tried to find a suitable word to depict the inconvenience they were witnessing first hand trying to get the to the years's hottest sporting event. Overheard were statements like "Hey, Marie, take a picture of me sitting on the floor like a beggar," and "Johnnie, if we don't get something to eat pretty soon, I may have to start rummaging in the garbage bins, ha ha." One traveler, when told he would have a three-hour wait at LaGuardia asked the one airline worker "well, do you think you could hook me up then with a large cardboard box to sleep in while I wait?"
That just goes to show that someone has been paying attention these past few years on all those reports about the homeless. Finally, someone gets it. All it takes is a bit of inconvenience to bring the message home.