The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Tuesday, January 13


The Peace Corps has a mantra for volunteers. Keep flexible. Expect the unexpected.

I had a taste of flexibility on my trip to family and friends at Christmas. It's called a sleep over at O'Hare Airport. I'm not sure I would recommend it unless you too are thinking about Peace Corps service.

The snow kept falling as I awaited my flight from Chicago to Providence Rhode Island. Delayed by 45 minutes. Delayed again by an hour. Delayed again and again until finally at 2:00 am, the agent announced no flight tonight.

To the groans of weary customers, she pleaded that she was only the messenger and not to blame her. So we put away our slings and arrows and blankly stared at one another. "We could all try stand-by tomorrow," she gleefully said- tho she failed to say that those flights were all booked.

I thought about getting a hotel room but at this hour and needing to be in the stand-by line by 6:30 am, it did not seem very logical. What to do now?

I looked around for for a resting place. Three chairs together without an arm rest in between would be perfect. But, I will tell you from experience. In an airport such a configuration is rare. I did see a few, but they were well occupied and I did not think it wise to disturb the inhabitants. I thought "No room in the inn"....opps that is another story.

So I settled for a two chairs and an arm rest. I linked my legs over the arm rest, rolled up my coat for a pillow and tried to drift off for an hour or so of sleep.

A gaggle of kids set up camp a few chair rows away and began giggling and having a good old time. I was hardly in the mood, but tried to practice Peace Corps fleibility and patience. I remember what a good friend taught me, "change the way you look at things and things change." Thank you Jim! I started thinking that I had waited so many years before I got caught in an airport and here they were 1/3 my age having this "adventure." Soon they settled and with a hand on my baggage I drifted off.

Next morning we all gathered at the gate hoping for stand-by. I was number 9 for a time until I got bumpped to number 15 by customers who had more frequent flyer miles than I. Needless to say, I did not make it on that flight. Looking outside I worried. The snow was coming down like the north pole. Good for Santa...not so good for Jud.

Trying my best to add a smile to my weary face, I hit upon a discussion with a fellow passenger. Amazingly, he had come some 20 years ago from Poland in an area only about 50 kilometers from Ukraine. He was a carpenter and going to the Providence area to visit his family. I told him about Peace Corps and we ended up having a wonderful conversation. He told me that he had changed flights to fly into Boston and then take a bus to Providence. Great idea. I did the same.

As I left snowy Chicago, I thought practice fllexibility and maybe you even meet a stranger who helps you along your way....

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