1. Deny reality: This will be fun! (It won’t)
2. Accept fate: Realize this won’t be fun.
3. Sprint to Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express: You plead with the kitchen to stay open just long enough to “give you some chicken tenders or something.”
4. Commiserate with fellow WPGE patrons: You’re not the only one who is stuck. Last time I met a couple who had been trying to leave the city for 34 hours straight. Haha I wonder if they are still at the airport.
5. Regret your past: How did I end up here? Maybe I shouldn’t have scheduled a flight when I saw the forecast. Maybe I should have chosen the other airport or driven. Maybe life is full of mistakes that we can’t take back.
6. Walk through the entire terminal: This is your home now. Welcome! I hope you like it. You can’t leave.
2. 7. Claim the best outlet-encampment that is close but not too close to the restroom.
Outlets next to seats are great, but the problem with seats is that other people will be around you too. Try the outlet under the pay phones. No one will bother you there.
8. Defeat rival outlet-seekers: Stand on your toes to make yourself look bigger and intimidate them. Also this may involve diverting competing parties by telling them there’s a 24-hour Cinnabon in Terminal E. (THERE ISN’T)
9. Form alliances: You’ll need someone to watch your back, especially if you’re going to fall asleep. Find someone with whom you have something in common. Try leading with something like, “Hey! You are stuck in an airport? ME TOO.”
10. Reinforce alliances by sharing useful information: Such as, “There’s soap in the middle dispenser.”
11. Write and Tweet a haiku about your experience thus far:
Soulless blue carpet
A Shuttered Duty Free store
I r’gret my choices
4. 12. Wedge yourself into a position in which you can sleep while maintaining contact with your luggage.
Secretly hope that someone tries to steal your bag so you can wake up and say, “Not so fast.” (A phrase you’ve been dying to say for years.)
13. Wake up an hour later: Is it morning yet? Haha no, it sure isn’t.
14. Incite sympathy from your entire contact list: “I’m stuck in an airport all night. Just wanted to say hi.” Everyone totally feels obligated to respond to that text, even at 1 a.m.
15. Text your West coast friends: Or whichever timezone features awake people.
16. Buy a sad yogurt and granola parfait: At this point you choose food from the sole 24-hour vendor just because you’re desperate for human contact. The man at the register doesn’t want to talk, it seems. Oh well, keep trying.
17. Really drag out this parfait consumption for as long as possible: Eschew the typical dump-and-mix method and instead sprinkle a bit of granola on each spoonful. There we go, this will take at least 11 minutes or so.
18. Memorize the automated PA messages: Time them so that you know precisely when they are played, and then 10 seconds before the next one is played, ask out loud whether you should take packages from someone you don’t know. When the voice answers you, snicker quietly to yourself.
6. 19. Befriend the cleaning crew. Push past their initial friendship resistance.
Don’t ask right away if you can try the floor buffer. You have to build up to that.
20. Ask Jim from the cleaning crew if he wants to go for yogurt parfaits, your treat: He likely isn’t allowed to, but breaking the rules every once in a while never hurt anyone, Jim.
21. Realize the conversation between you and Jim was entirely played out in your mind: But it felt real to you.
22. Check the time: It’s 2:33 a.m. Still five hours before you get to go through security again.
23. Think about that Tom Hanks movie: The pleasant one where he can’t leave the airport terminal. What was it called again?
24. Look up Tom Hanks’ profile on IMDB.com: Realize he has been in several movies where he is trapped. Trapped on an island (Castaway), trapped in a man’s body (Big), trapped on a ship (Captain Phillips), trapped in a bad movie (The Da Vinci Code).
8. 25. Look at the early morning departures list and try to guess where each stranger around you is going.
I bet that guy is going to Albany. I bet he is going to propose to his longtime girlfriend after years of trying to start his own brand to rival Tupperware. He is putting his dream on hold because the best things in life can’t be preserved in a plastic tub.
26. Stare into the vending machine: Think about how many famous comic strip characters there are, and yet it’s Andy Capp who has his own snack, HOT FRIES. What an underdog story.
27. Look in your bag again: What do you have? A book you’ve been meaning to read for years now. Guns, Germs, and Steel. Put it back. 2014 is still not the right year.
28. Doze off just as Jim is finishing the the last section of the tile floor and going home: Realize you watched his entire shift go by.
29. Wake up, see warm colors creeping in all around you: REALIZE THE SUN IS RISING.
30. Cheerfully go through security: Hold your hands high in victory as you stand in the body scanner. You did it! You survived the night.
31. Buy a gigantic Cinnabon: You deserve all 880 calories. And it’s the only thing that sounds good to you at this moment.
10. 32. Fly away into the sunrise. Realize how lucky you are to live in a time when humans can rise above the clouds.
Vow to read more history books: Get out Guns, Germs, and Steel. Read a page. Nice. Good work.
33. Fall asleep.