I finally got back home last night after 11 PM. The second flight was, mercifully, on an MD-80, so there was no movie service. Since everything was still backed up in NYC, all the flights to LGA were late. The 4:00 flight was delayed until 6:00. The 4:30 flight was delayed until 7:20. Bizarrely, my 5:00 flight was on time. I don't understand why they don't run the schedule on a first plane in, first plane out basis, but I was told something about "equipment and crews." So swap them! I was afraid that if I asked about it too much, they actually would swap them.
The plane boarded on time, surprisingly enough. I was surrounded by 815 children. Small, small children. Two rows back, one of the small, small children started screaming uncontrollably because her mom went into the lavatory with a small, small sibling for half a minute. Mom got back, small, small child kept screaming. That set the other children in the back of the plane off, like neighborhood dogs howling at the moon.
Since this leg was scheduled to depart at 5:00 PM, it was scheduled for beverage service only. I now officially worship the Wolfgang Puck Express in O'Hare, because it saved me when we ended up sitting on the runway for two hours with a hold at LGA. I was right next to the flight attendant, and complained to her about the day I'd had. If you haven't learned this valuable lesson yet, it always helps: use the phrase "the hardest part has been keeping my cool and not taking it out on people like you and the gate attendants who have no control over the situation." Service jobs like that must be the worst thing on earth, thanks to America's "complain loudly until you get action" ethos.
Anyway, the calm yet annoyed voice worked, because the attendant actually offered to buy me a drink once we were in the air. WINK. She had some interesting stories about the post-9/11 atmosphere on the airlines. All kinds of stuff still gets through the gate checks. One guy walked onto a plane and started spreading cream cheese on a bagel with his box cutter! They regularly find box cutters and razors taped under seats on the planes when they do sweeps. She's had to report more than one passenger who took copious notes about the exact routines the flight attendants were performing - when they stood up, when they moved, the timing, everything. But it's her firm conviction that our air travel system is still being infiltrated and tested regularly by groups looking for weaknesses to launch another attack.