Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

An O'Hare Pick-up Nightmare

It’s an evening in June.  My wife Alice is arriving at O’Hare from the East Coast, but it’s not going as planned; there are bad storms in the area.  The following is a transcription of a text conversation between my wife and me (and my daughters when I’m driving).  You be the judge as to whether texting helped or hindered this process. 

7:18 PM, Alice

I am going to be delayed.  Willing to pick me up?  I am American Flt 4193.

7:19 PM, Paul

No problem.

Things get delayed more, and Alice still hasn’t landed by the time I pick up my daughters from a late summer school class.  I take off straight from there around 10:30PM, assuming by that point that it’ll be a quick in and out at O’Hare.  We arrive at the cell-phone lot and wait for further instructions.

10:50 PM, Paul

We’ll be parked in cell phone lot until you let us know

We wait and we wait.  People are getting tired and edgy, but the girls don’t have summer school the next morning.  No big deal.

11:11 PM, Paul

Getting close?

11:12PM , Alice

Oh goodness.  There is no one here to move the jetway.  I will let you know when I am off and on my way.  3 minutes, hopefully.

11:13 PM, Paul


11:19PM, Alice

They are holding us hostage.  Want to head home and I will grab a #*@# cab?

11:22 PM, Paul

Probably good idea.  294 was bumper to bumper going south.  Could b clear but maybe better take Manheim.  If things change for u soon let us know right away

We begin to exit the cell-phone lot and make our way toward Manheim Road.

11:23 PM, Alice

We are getting off!  Can you still come?!

My daughters’ take control of the cell-phone.

11:23 PM, one of my daughters


11:24 PM, Alice


We begin to make our way toward the terminal pickup.

11:24 PM, one of my daughters

Bottom level

We approach the roadway to get to the bottom level, but it’s bumper to bumper.  Time to call an audible.

11:29 PM, one of my daughters

New instructions…Go upstairs…

Then again, the top level doesn’t look any better.  In fact, it’s horrendous!  Now there’s a certain degree of frustration setting in.  I circle around and make my way back to the parking lot.

11:33PM, one of my daughters

Just kidding…just to get out it would be an hour…We’re parking…We’ll meet you on lower level by baggage claim. 

Unfortunately, by this point Alice has already made her way outside and it waiting at the lower level.  The rising frustration level isn’t confined to the car.

11:34 PM, Alice

No.  I am standing here!

11:34 PM, one of my daughters

Yeah…but to get to u it’d be a long time

11:34 PM, Alice

Up or down?

11:35 PM, one of my daughters

Baggage claim!

11:35 PM, Alice

K.  By Starbucks.  Claim 9

11:35 PM, one of my daughters


We park the car, Cubs level, get into the elevator, press down, and exit into the tunnels beneath the pickup area where we’d hoped to be ten minutes ago.  I now have control of the cell-phone, which makes me feel a little better.  Cuz I’m a guy.

11:37 PM, Paul

U can start walking down toward the lot

11:38 PM, Alice

There are 2 tunnels.

(I’m thinking, “Yes, I know there are 2 tunnels, but for gosh sakes, just get downstairs already!”) but I show great TEXTING RESTRAINT and edit myself, a skill I haven’t yet mastered while talking.

11:39 PM, Paul

Here now claim 9

Eureka!  We have visual confirmation!  Hugs are exchanged.  Bags are rolled.  We make it home by midnight (I decide to take Manheim) and tell my wife, “Next time, take a cab.”

Copyright, 2017, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved