So yeah, when the entire United States decided to shut down for the Apocalypse, my happy ass was on the way to a customer in Indiana. I've done quite a lot in my life and seen quite a few unique things. I served 12 years active duty Army. I've spent the last 25 years traveling for a living, and between my civilian and military careers, I have seen much of the world and thought I'd seen just about everything. I was wrong. This last week was the most bizarre experience I think I've ever had
Normally the shuttle buses for the parking areas all cue up in a designated area to drop you off at the airport, but there was no need for this because the airport was absolutely empty.
No long line of cars disgorging or picking up travelers.
No endless series of taxis and buses.
No pedestrians trying to cross the busy road.
The Austin International Airport was all but EMPTY.
I waked directly up to the Delta counter - not one person in line.
I walked directly up to the TSA inspector at the checkpoint - not one other person going through security.
I walked clear to the end of the concourse and passed maybe three or four people. Bemused, I looked back and took a couple of photos.
It turns out that my customers company may not have been quite as vital as my contact had thought, because as I was packing up my tools and spares at the end of the service call, he came back into the room shaking his head and looking shocked.
"You see all of those technicians out there?" he asked, pointing out the large window into the huge bay.
"Yeah?" I answered.
"Every one of them just got laid off . . . "
Do you know that I spent a week at the Holiday Inn and never saw a single other guest there in that time. Not one. Including my car, there were three cars in the parking lot and I think two of them belonged to employees. Obliviously no breakfast was served and no housekeeping was provided or offered during my stay. At the end of each day, I made my way through almost empty streets, to my empty hotel where even the people working there hid in a room behind the counter. I think I spent to two entire nights watching "Abandoned Engineering" on the Science Channel while eating sandwiches and slurping Pepsi. For the record, I'm pretty damn sick of store bought subway sandwiches at this point. Just sayin . . .
Not a big surprise, don't get me wrong, but my flights home were canceled. I booked alternate flights. An hour later they were canceled. I again booked alternate flights. They were canceled. I got it right with my last attempt though and headed for home this morning. My first stop upon entering the concourse was at the Starbucks for some badly needed caffeine. I cued up behind three other people, all of us minding the 6 foot or so gap between each other, and so the line was moving pretty slowly and I was surfing Facebook on my phone . . . when I heard someone behind the counter . . . cough . . twice. Right then and there I decided that I didn't want coffee quite as bad a I had thought I did and exited the line.
I had to laugh on my flight from Atlanta to Austin though, when it became obvious why this flight had not been canceled - most of the people on it were Delta flight attendants. By luck, I'd managed to select a flight that Delta was apparently using to transport about a dozen flight attendant on their way to other locations.
So yeah, I'm home now, and I will not be getting back onto another airplane until the dust settles on this virus.
Oh, and if anyone notices that several rolls of toilet paper went missing from my hotel and the airport stalls I visited, I had nothing to do with it . . .