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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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'Delayed' (again)

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The airports: one of the most stressful environments ever. I was reminded of this during a recent trip from Bangor to Pittsburgh via a stop in Philly. I flew out the day of our first snow storm. Leaving Bangor was easy, breezy - but that all changed about halfway to Philly when the plane hit turbulence. That was one bumpy ride! I have never been so happy to land. That was the beginning of a very long day as flights were cancelled and postponed, and travelers and flight crews were grounded. The Philly airport was full of people staring at the departures board and making calls to family, friends and colleagues to keep them apprised of their status.

So what can you do when things don't go as planned? This is a situation that is entirely out of your control. You have two options: stress out and be a royal pain to the gate agents or just roll with it. I chose the latter when I found my flight from Philly to Pitt delayed once, then twice, and then again and again and again.

Rather than feel bad about what would be a late arrival to Pittsburgh, I looked it as an unexpected opportunity to chill and relax, to take some time for myself and make the most of it. So after a little shopping at the airport mall, I settled into the CIAO lounge for dinner. Setting up my laptop at the bar, I waited for food and watched my flight status online.

I soon realized the people sitting next to me were waiting for the same flight. The Pittsburgh Steelers garb gave it away; many were headed to the Pats/Steelers game that weekend. Before I knew it, we all became fast friends, sharing our stories of bumpy flights, delays and reasons for heading to Pittsburgh. Turned out the guy next to me was heading to the game to write about it. He writes for Sports Illustrated. We chatted about our mutual interests in broadcasting and journalism. The couple in the Steelers garb were restaurant owners in New England who get to as many games as possible. We talked about the restaurant business and what it's like for them to be Steelers fans living in Pats country. There was the man who was en route from San Francisco to attend the game. He grew up a Steelers fan and gets to one game a year. We chatted about our mutual love for and connections in the Bay area.

Together we all watched many stories play out in the restaurant as the hours passed. We shared our own stories, our food and status reports of our flight. As people came and went from the bar stools, we welcomed them into our conversations and advised them as to the best choices on the menu. As much as being delayed was an inconvenience, and as much as we were all ready to board the plane for our final destination, when our flight finally boarded we were all a little sad to say good bye and go our separate ways.

Had I not been delayed, I would have never have met such nice people and made new friends. I will likely never see them again, but that experience reminded me that when you are delayed - when things don't go as planned - rather than sit and feel sorry for yourself, why not relax and make the most of it? You never know what you will experience or whom you might meet. Be open and go with the flow. You'll get to your final destination eventually and - if you're lucky - with great memories of making new friends!

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