I wasn’t in the state when Washington was first shut down from COVID-19. I was in Florida on a college visit. Florida didn’t really shut down until a few days before my family and I were to head home. I didn’t truly realize how serious this was becoming until our flight from Tampa to Chicago was canceled. No big deal at first; Southwest would just rebook us. We got a new flight to Baltimore, Maryland with a connecting flight to Chicago. It would be a longer trip than we would prefer but we were fine with it. We had a way home and we were thankful for that.
Upon arriving at the airport at around 10 a.m., my dad got an email telling us that our new flights were also canceled. We were rebooked onto a flight to Washington, D.C. then to Raleigh, North Carolina, where we would be stranded. A little more nervous now, we went to the booking counter to try and find a new flight. We learned that there were no flights heading to the Chicago Midway Airport where our car was. The closest we could get was Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With no other options we made the decision to take the flight to Milwaukee scheduled for 6 p.m. With the eight hour wait we had plenty of time to figure out how we were going to get ourselves from Milwaukee to Chicago. Renting a car and driving it to Chicago seemed to be the best plan of action, so that is what we did.
When 5:30 p.m. came around, everyone boarded the airplane. One of the lights near the cabin was broken, so there was a slight delay in take-off. The plane eventually took off at around 6:30 p.m. Two hours and forty minutes later we were in Milwaukee. It was about 9 p.m. when my family and I finally got our luggage and rental car. Next was an approximately two-hour drive to the Midway Airport. We arrived in Chicago at 11 p.m. and quickly returned our rental, got our car, grabbed some gas, and headed home. Five hours later, we were home. Although this experience was not fun and definitely not something I want to repeat, it taught me some valuable lessons about patience, trust, and family. I know as long as I am with my family, we will be OK. On a more positive note, the delays and cancellations also allowed me to watch almost three seasons of The Office, which was quite enjoyable!