By Judy Berman
Crowds jamming the airports and train stations to get home for the holidays. For a real traveler’s nightmare, throw in some snowstorms, flight delays, sleeping on your luggage at the airport, and stress about catching a connecting flight or train.
One year, on our way to see my folks in Vegas, the snow began flying fast and furious. Our flight from New York had an unscheduled layover in Chicago. It looked like we’d be spending an overnight with our two small children at O’Hare International Airport.
Tantalizing thoughts of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie vanished as I considered we might be dining on airport terminal – note the word “terminal” – food. Tasteless burgers, greasy pizza, stale pretzels and watered-down sodas.
Still, our experience pales next to Steve Martin’s plight (as Neal Page) as he tries desperately to find a way home for Thanksgiving in John Hughes’ 1987 movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Neal’s plans are doomed from the start. Missed cabs, a canceled flight and a stranger he just can’t seem to shake: John Candy (as Del Griffith).
Neal, an uptight ad rep, wants to be left alone. Del, a jocular shower curtain salesman, comes off as an annoying blabbermouth. This odd couple’s road trip begins when a storm forces their plane to be rerouted to Wichita, Kansas. They are forced to hunker down in a fly-by-night hotel and are robbed as they sleep.
A few more hitches and Neal decides they should go their separate ways. He heads to a car-rental parking lot. But his car is not there and he has a meltdown.
After a 3-mile walk back to the terminal, Neal is seething, and rips into the Marathon Car Rental Agent (played by Edie McClurg). His one-minute, profanity-laced tirade and McClurg’s response are hysterical (and earned the movie its “R” rating).
Who comes to Neal’s rescue as he is about to hail a cab? Del.
On the road again, Del gets into the music while Neal sleeps. At one point, his car spins out of control. They wind up driving the wrong way on a highway and into the path of two semis. Miraculously, they escape unscathed … until they set down on their luggage in the road and realize that their car just burst into flames.
It’s not the end of the mishaps or of the hilarity. When they part, Neal begins to laugh about their adventures. He realizes Del is the “real article,” and recognizes a deeper truth.
When Neal does get home for Thanksgiving, he’s not alone when he walks in the door.
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Movie Clip – “You’re Going the Wrong Way” scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, with Steve Martin and John Candy.
Photo: Travel – airport – snow removal – Heavy Oshkosh trucks are removing tons of snow from the airfield runways, taxiways and parking ramps after a snow storm dumped 12 to 18 inches of snow in the area. At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.. Taken Feb. 12, 2010 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Oshkosh_snow_removal_vehicle.JPG/640px-Oshkosh_snow_removal_vehicle.JPG