what laysover in vegas: things i learned while stranded in the sin city airport

I flew out to Texas to drop my Big Girl off for a couple of weeks at Grandma Camp. This was her idea. It was a quick turnaround, on the ground in the Lone Star State for less than 36 hours.

Bleary-eyed and a little bit sad, I said good-bye to my child (who suddenly seemed old and wise beyond her years at the Midland Airport) at 5am California time and embarked on my trip home. I had to switch planes in Vegas. And without going into boring details I will just say that a major air traffic issue arose and I got sort of stranded at the airport. Not overnight or anything. But long enough to really get a feel for the damn place.

And here is what I learned in my 5.5 hours spent wandering around…

  • If you say to yourself, “Oh, I don’t need my laptop. I’m taking vacation and it’s a quickie trip! I’ll just read that Elmore Leonard book and kick back and relax!” you will certainly have a huge flight delay and wish you had your laptop.
  • Along those same lines, never travel with only two tampons when it’s that time of the month, again thinking, “Oh it’s a short trip. No biggie.”
  • Airport tampons are hella expensive.
  • No laptop + not even a pen or a pencil anywhere on my person = problem for a writer stranded in an airport.
  • Airport pens are hella expensive.
  • The Las Vegas Airport is very depressing. Or maybe I was just bummed because I had just said good-bye to my Big Girl for two weeks.
  • I walked every terminal except the international one and they are all really big bummers when you are by yourself and not drinking or gambling.
  • However, the A Terminal is the least crowded and most chilled out. If you are ever stranded at the Vegas airport you should go the bar in over in A, which is full of business travelers who leave each other alone and don’t try to tell stories to strangers about selling cars in L.A. back in the 80s or wax poetic about unfulfilled dreams of playing guitar in a Rolling Stones tribute band.
  • The Burger King seating area outside of Terminal B has people in it who will tell stories to strangers about selling cars in L.A. back in the 80s and wax poetic about unfulfilled dreams of playing guitar in a Rolling Stones tribute band.
  • If you listen closely, the airport music is full of ironic melancholy (“We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun…”) and probably evokes conversations with strangers about their unfulfilled tribute band dreams.
  • It also repeats itself every two hours.
  • If you are stranded in the airport and you call your sister for entertainment (the person who you can talk to for ten hours straight about nothing), you will suddenly have absolutely nothing to talk about and you will get off the phone after three minutes.
  • Men travel in packs in the Vegas airport. And, even if they are very nice people in their real lives, they seem to cluster into wolfish, threatening hives of raw testosterone. This is creepy. And this is just in the airport.

But enough time passed for a little bit of gratitude: strong legs to keep me lapping the hallways with energy; enough money to buy Asian chicken salads, frozen yogurts, Fiji waters, tampons, magazines, and funny souvenir pens; people to miss in California and Texas; sweet grandparents who were thrilled to take my Big Girl; a sweet daddy who took off work to entertain the Little Girl while I made the trip.

Maybe a long layover without a laptop can be a good thing.

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