What I Did the Last Time I Spent the Night in the Atlanta Airport

Airport Delays

What I Did the Last Time I Spent the Night in the Atlanta Airport by Wambui Bahati

Recently I spent the night in the Atlanta airport. I've done this before. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, a major connecting hub, is considered one of the world's busiest passenger airports. Therefore, when bad weather hits Atlanta, flights are grounded and hundreds of people end up stuck at the airport.

The plane I was to take from Wichita to Atlanta (at 11:30 a.m.) was delayed seven hours because of bad weather in Atlanta. By the time I got to Atlanta, there was bad weather in New York City, my final destination. Therefore, no planes were leaving for New York City that evening.

When it was finally my turn to ask the airline customer service agent how I would get home, I was told I had been booked on a flight that would leave the next morning at 6:45 a.m. for New York City. I was offered a discount coupon for a local hotel. I asked if I could get my checked bag back. I was told I could not.

I figured since I was going to have to spend the night in my clothes and without my toiletries anyway, why go to a hotel? It was about 9:30 p.m. I scouted the airport for what seemed like a reasonably comfortable chair. I figured out a way to keep my tote bag and computer bag straps wrapped around me while using both bags as a pillow.

After I closed my eyes, every ten minutes I heard a recorded announcement. I timed it. Every ten minutes a recorded voice would say, "The Homeland Security code is orange. We are on orange alert." Then the recording would say something about being cautious about people and packages around you.

Now, I don't watch television, especially late night news, because I don't want to hear about negative and disturbing events that I cannot control. I had discovered this practice of avoiding hearing about negative events when I was recovering from many years of depression. Hearing that we were on orange alert and hearing that I had to be more cautious about people and packages around me was not what I wanted to hear as I tried to fall asleep that evening. Listening to podcasts and tunes on my iPod helped for a while, but soon the battery power was too low.

I'm sure that someone decided to play the orange alert tape every ten minutes out of genuine concern for our safety. However, hearing it repeatedly was not serving me well at this particular time.

So I thought to myself, how can I make this work for me?

I decided to play a game. Whenever I heard the announcer say "orange," I would associate the color with something that I could relate to in a more pleasing and empowering way.

Therefore, I would substitute the word "love" for the word "orange." However corny this may sound, it worked for me. All through the night, "we were on 'love' alert." The mind is a powerful tool, and you can fool the psyche into believing anything you want it to believe. I decided that orange means love. Yes, we were on the security "love" level.

I figured that's really the most important thing we can do when we hear orange alert. We need to love. Love ourselves. Love our neighbors. And yes, love those who might want to harm us. I don't love what they do. However, I have learned that when I'm consumed with hate and fear I destroy myself-I give away my power-and I'm not going to do that anymore. When I hear the announcement about an orange alert, I think of love. I am alert, and I love. Orange is love.

I had a lot of time on my hands that evening. Except for Chick-fil-a, all the other food places, bookstores and magazine concessions were closed. Therefore, I gave new meaning to all of the colors in the Homeland Security Advisory System. I gave each color a word that meant something special to me.

For instance, red is faith. I figured that if we ever get to red, which is the highest and most severe security threat, we are going to need faith. We are going to have to remember everything we've ever been taught about belief in a higher power and belief in ourselves. We are going to have to remember everything we've ever been taught about our own strength and the power within us. From everything I've read, no one is really sure what will happen if that day ever comes. That is why faith is so important.

Red means go deep inside and remember that you're not alone in this universe. Red means remember that you are loved. Remember that we are in this world, but not of it. Red means courage. Red means knowing that whatever happens, each of us has the ability to overcome it and to rise above. Level red to me is the level of faith.

That night in Atlanta, at about two o'clock in the morning, I went back down the scale, and I started with green. To me, green represents peace. Green represents new beginnings-the greatest joy. Green is happiness and an ideal state of being. At level green, we all understand that we are all one from one divine source.

The next level is blue. Blue is the color of the never-ending sky and the vast ocean. Blue is possibilities. Blue is amazing. Blue represents adventure and potential. Blue represents the everyday challenges that force us to grow and to learn lessons whether we are ready to learn them or not. Blue is travel and a new idea. Level blue is the level of possibilities.

Yellow is radiant energy. I think of the sun. Yellow is innovative. Yellow is "yes, I can." Yellow is divine health and divine wealth. Yellow is laughter and smiles that can't be hidden.

And that brings us back to orange-love-and red-faith . . . I finally felt secure with the Homeland Security color-coded advisory system.

And that is what I did the last time I spent the night in the Atlanta airport. What did you do?

Color Code People

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