Incredibly Human

Jennifer Schlickbernd has been a member of Neighborhood UU Church for five years.  Here is her story about traveling last Friday.

LAX-airport-policeOn Friday, November 1, I was planning to go to the airport for a trip I had been looking forward to for quite a while. I was meeting a dear friend at an annual board game event on Saturday in Eugene, Oregon and then flying on Sunday to Oakland, California to attend a football game featuring my favorite football team, the Oakland Raiders, with another dear friend. Well, as most people know, that morning a shooter murdered one person and wounded others in Terminal 3 at LAX,  resulting in a shutdown of the airport. The day was then for me a mass of Twitter, calling my airline, and indecision. Should I go; should I not? My issue was that both of the events that I was planning to attend were that weekend or no weekend.  The event wouldn’t happen for another year and the football tickets had already been bought. My friend was greatly looking forward to the game as well.

My flight was leaving at 5 pm and at 2:45 I got past the indecision. My son and I decided to set out to see if the flight could be salvaged. He dropped me off at the Sheraton on Century Blvd around 3:45. I thanked Google Maps several times because many streets were barricaded and without Maps we wouldn’t have gotten that far. At 4 pm, they opened the airport. By that time, Century Blvd was full of people on foot. People with luggage, kids, backpacks, and me with my luggage.

At 4 pm we all started walking along Century Blvd to the airport.  All of us walking at the same pace. Easily over a thousand people. No one hurrying, shoving, or pushing. Just walking at what must be the natural human pace, looking forward. It was so spiritual. No one knew really what we would see when we got there. Would our planes be there? There were pilots in uniform walking with us. Would they get there in time to fly the planes? What about the ticket people and the other people needing to fly?

What was amazing was if you would have asked these people 24 hours prior if they expected to be walking into LAX, they would have looked at you as if you were nuts. Yet here they were, getting to their flight the only way they could, by walking. There was no Kumbaya, just a ton of people hoping to get to where they wanted to go. Incredibly human. We want to travel!  And we’ll do whatever it takes to go where we want to go.  My plane was late and left around 6 pm, but all went well.

It was a once in a lifetime experience I hope never to repeat again.

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2 Responses to Incredibly Human

  1. Lee Brainerd says:

    Excellent story and so easy to picture, Jennifer. Emergencies and disasters do bring with them interesting stories, sometimes beautiful ones. I often wonder about what happened to the passengers on the plane that was diverted to a small town in Canada during the 9/11 air space shut down and were cared for by strangers for days. Did any romances or permanent friendships develop?
    Ned and I met a couple recently who wouldn’t have met and fallen in love and married if not for working side by side in Haiti after the terrible earthquake. Peace, Lee Brainerd

  2. Bob Gotham says:

    Thanks much for sharing your experience. Sadly, it seems to take something tragic to make us all come together and act as we are one community. My sense is that everyone walking to the airport had that sense of community.

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