Thwarted. My plans to participate in the party of the century – no – the party of the millennium – were thoroughly thwarted.The turning of the calendar from 1999 to 2000 was a big one and I was going to participate. I’ve never been a big New Years participant for a variety of reasons (chores, weather, travel, illness, etc). But this year was going to be different.
It was going to be a trip to remember – a car of us driving from Fargo, ND up to Winnipeg, Canada (if you are going to be cold on New Years, you might as well be in Canada), to celebrate in style. Instead, my Dad and I left the night after Christmas to go to my Uncle Hank’s funeral in Pennsylvania. It was going to be a quick trip – home the morning of December 30th – in plenty of time to make my connection in Fargo the morning of the 31st.
Our connecting flight from Chicago to Fargo the afternoon of December 30th was canceled. Then the evening flight was canceled. But they booked us the 7:00 am flight and put us up in hotel.
Back at the airport at 5:00am…and the flight was canceled. It was then that I noticed something a little suspicious…there was no one else in the area…the restaurants, the bars, the waiting areas, the bathrooms…there was almost no one else around.
December 31, 1999 was not a day that most people wanted to be flying, for two reasons – first, the world was going to have one heck of a party welcoming in the new century and the new millennium. Second, with the uncertainty of the computer bugs that could potentially make computers turn to “1900″ instead of “2000″ people were worried about planes falling out of the sky.
As these thoughts played through my mind, we waited for the noon flight…then the noon flight was canceled.
Finally, they called for our boarding on the 5:00pm flight, 24 hours later then expected and well beyond any hope of making it to Winnipeg for the turning of the New Millennium.
As they boarded us, Dad and I were third and fourth in line…and also last and second to last in line. Yup, four whole people on the flight from Chicago to Fargo. They wouldn’t let us sit together, claimed they had to balance the weight. The two other people sat at the window seat at the very front of the plane. Dad and I sat on the opposite sides of the plane at the very back. I’m not sure if it was to balance the weight, or if they knew that we had all spent 24 hours in an airplane terminal and were likely to attack each other over the minutest detail.
As the plan took off, the stewardesses were attentive (after all, they only had 1.33 passengers each!). About six o’clock, the captain came over the intercom.
“Good afternoon folks, we are currently approaching Minneapolis/St. Paul so you should be able to see that out of your windows. Some good news for you folks as well, it is now officially midnight Greenwich Mean Time and we are still in the air! Happy New Year!.”
So Dad and I were some of the few, the very few, to say that we were in the air when we greeted the new millennium (and one of about eight on the flight from Chicago to Fargo).
In the end, I made it home, safe and in one piece to celebrate the turning of the New Mellenium on our little farm in Northwestern Minnesota. As the clock approached midnight, I put on my coveralls, boots, hat and gloves and went for a walk in the cold night air. Watching my watch as the minutes ticked by, I fell to my knees as the clock turned and said my traditional New Years Prayers, this time – not for the year, but for the new millennium, “Lord, thanks for all of the blessings of the old one, and may the new one be sight better.”
In the end, I don’t know of a better way to welcome it in.