ACORN International Personal Writings

            Atlanta             Marva Burnett, ACORN International’s president, John Anderson, ACORN Canada’s field director, and I gave each other one last wave, as they hurried off to Terminal 1 in Manchester, and I began the hike to Terminal 2 with hours to spare.  It turned out to be a good thing, because when the Virgin Atlantic counter agent couldn’t print the ticket for my reservation, which I had confirmed and pre-checked the night before, it turned out that my leg home from JFK in New York to Atlanta and then onward had been canceled by Delta, which was news to all of us.

Despite the fact that Delta and Virgin code-share, which amalgamates these tickets, their computers don’t connect, so to not be stranded in England, I had to call them.  Doing so initiated a 28-minute wait.  In a four-minute call, where the Deltoid affirmed, I was stuck in JFK, he said he would put me on hold, so I could get out of Manchester, and then I ended up on a Delta survey, which I had declined, and then they hung up on me.  AI may be the future, but it’s not the present.  Somehow, I managed to get a more dexterous Virgin agent who was able to get me a boarding pass.  Arriving in New York eight hours later, a Delta agent found me a flight to Atlanta, but would be overnighting in the airport while waiting for the first flight to New Orleans at nine.

This isn’t my first rodeo.  I could compare this to similar sleepovers in Amsterdam, Frankfort, Doha, and even Orlando earlier this year.  It’s just another chapter in urban camping in airportlandia, where the goal is to get a few hours on the floor and observe closely how this graveyard world works.  This time Atlanta-style.  By the way, landing in one of the world’s busiest airports at night, have you ever wondered exactly how the lightshow on the runways works…blue, green, yellow, and flashing red, beautiful in its own way, and mysterious to all but the pilot.

In airportlandia, the public authority provides the infrastructure, but the airlines have to kit out their concourses, and Delta rules this roost, flying out of all seven.  Landing in B, I remembered that in the past there were workspaces on some concourses, but I couldn’t find them anywhere on A, B, or C.  In fact, none of the plugs on the seats seemed to work either, maybe reflecting harder times for Delta during the pandemic, even though it’s making bank now.  One-hundred percent of the night cleaning and prep crew in Atlanta is Black.  Rap and trap music compete in a battle of the bands with the jazzy canned stuff.  Every once in a while, a security guy would walk the aisles, but basically, as always, the nights belong to the workers from midnight to past 4am with no supervisors ever visible.  Lots of breaks, walking and talking, but as people started coming for their planes after four, work becomes more intense, even if the workers still own the space.

It’s all fascinating to me in what might seem a bizarre kind of way.  I’m not going to make it a habit, but it’s interesting.  At 4:30 am, as I made myself a cup of coffee and chicory with the last of my stash, saved over this 10-day trip for just emergencies like this, using my plastic AeroPress and the portable electric kettle my daughter had given me for my last birthday, I was tired, for sure, but not miserable.  That’s something to savor in itself.