Delight in Delay / by Courtney Mehlhaff

In honor of the many (possibly frustrated) Thanksgiving travelers, I share this story. 

Last spring, I took a trip to the Grand Canyon with my sister. We flew into Phoenix and then rented a car for the drive to the rim. 

After grabbing a shuttle from the airport, we found the lobby of our rental company absolutely overflowing with people. There was a "take a number" station at the entrance, and my small slip of paper said 52.

The number displayed on the digital sign above the clerk's counter was 11.

It was a disheartening gap, but luckily my sister and I share the same roll-with-it attitude about travel. We nabbed a couple seats and pulled out books and phones for the wait.

However, I soon found a much more entertaining way to pass the time. I started watching newcomers pull their own terrible numbers from the machine.

I honestly wish I had a video of all the reactions to those little tickets. They ranged from shock and disbelief to utter dismay and defeat to outright anger. One guy simply glanced up at the service counter sign, threw his number to the ground, and walked away.

Is it schadenfreude if you're in the same predicament? I don't know. But it was great. If I learned one thing, it's that it's physically impossible to hurl a 2-inch piece of paper downward with a force equal to the amount of anger a person is feeling.

An hour later we had our vehicle, and I had run the full gamut of human emotion with my fellow grumbling customers. And although none of them seemed to realize that we'd shared something special, I was truly thankful that everyone takes low-stakes bad news differently.