“Don’t Worry, It’s Fine” – Yale Daily News


Three weeks ago, four friends who had never hung out in groups decided to be reckless. Jaime, Aaron, Gamze and Mahesh – the YDN X WYBC “NoLa Squad” – Googled “flights to New Orleans” and booked the cheapest possible. With all respectable hotels and Airbnbs taken, a somewhat sketchy hostel was found on Yelp. A dozen days later, they packed up their 18 x 14 inch “personal items” and landed in Louisiana. In two days, the friends managed to meet a broken typewriter poet from Hawaii, bond with an ensemble of Northwest student actors, and see alligators in the back of a U- Haul at twenty dollars. By the time they arrived back at Louis Armstrong Airport, the crew felt vindicated. So much for parental warnings about “recklessness.” If they had been afraid of youth hostels or forty-minute layovers, friends would still be shaking in New Haven. The willingness to improvise and take risks has always paid off.

Wanting to keep costs as low as possible, the NoLa team had booked a round-trip flight from New Orleans with a forty-minute layover in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The danger of such a quick layover made Jaime uncomfortable, and at the last minute she ditched the original flight for an earlier direct flight. At first, his friends laughed at the unnecessary caution. It wouldn’t take long, however, for Jaime to become the subject of envy.

Due to Spirit Flight 672’s affinity for the tarmac—otherwise known as “maintenance delays”—NoLa Squad arrived in Florida hungry, tired, and three hours too late for their connection. But that was okay because soon came a gift from Spirit Airlines: three $7 meal vouchers and a room in a Sheraton. The cost was more than travelers had ever paid for their tickets. What a story!

They called an Uber and jumped into a blue sedan to meet Ramón. As the driver regaled them with stories about his native Colombia, he casually asked, “So, you’re Brian, aren’t you?” A horrified Aaron looked down at his phone and saw a flurry of messages from a confused Ben still at the airport. “Sorry,” Ramón said as he dropped the students off at the side of the road. Two taxis later, the team arrived at the Dania Beach Sheraton excited for dinner. But instead of a gourmet restaurant, there was only a three-product vending machine: Doritos, Apple Juice and Haagen Dazs. Before they could unpack their mini-spoons, the friends had to redeem nine meal vouchers with a receptionist who was on her first day on the job. “I’ve never seen one before,” the employee said before spending two hours looking for the correct QR code.

Aaron had given up after 15 minutes and chose sleep over nutrition. Mahesh and Gamze tried to find their beds, but as soon as Gamze opened her bedroom door, she was greeted by four intertwined legs and a scream. Leaving the happy couple alone, a shaken Gamze returned to the hall, “I think I may have the wrong key.” While she was at the counter, a middle-aged man approached, “if you’re looking for a room, you can sleep in mine.” Gamze rejected the offer as politely as she could before a middle-aged woman approached and put her arm around the smiling gentleman. “We make a trio. Would you like a little practice? The unenthusiastic friends ran to the elevator, found (unoccupied) rooms and saw a text from Aaron: “Everyone ready. We leave at 6:20 a.m. sharp.

Three hours later, Mahesh woke up at a clock that said 6:25 a.m. and casually finished her chocolate ice cream before heading down to the lobby. “What’s wrong with you,” Aaron shouted, then repeated when he learned that Gamze had lost his boarding pass. Mahesh looked for his own, found nothing and remained silent. The Uber arrived at FLL airport at 7:00 a.m. and Aaron rushed to the gate, “I’ll see you at the gate.” But there was not to be a meeting; by the time Mahesh and Gamze got the boarding passes, the flight was 30,000 feet too high to reach. The duo walked to an empty Spirit Airlines customer service desk. Ninety minutes later, a man in a yellow vest came and announced, “Here are your tickets for the flight tomorrow morning. Mahesh and Gamze begged for a flight to anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line but could get nothing more than two tickets waiting on a full plane for La Guardia. The friends took out their bags and put them on the floor; they would spend the night at the airport and it would be their pillows.

Before you get too jealous of NoLa Squad’s round-the-clock adrenaline rush, it’s worth noting that getting stuck in transit is objectively bad. From Uber fares to flight change fees and overpriced airport sandwiches, the stay in Florida turned what was supposed to be a budget trip into a truly extravagant trip. But it’s okay because even the most heartbreaking experiences have their gifts. In a clichéd tale of traumatic bonding, the Spirit transport saga cemented a friendship. Mahesh understood that when Gamze laughs, it’s not because she’s happy but because she’s anxious. Gamze learned that when Mahesh says to a receptionist, “you’re fine,” he’s really saying “fuck you” in his positively toxic way. The couple also learned how incompetence has a unique and uncanny ability to expose the absurd. Because it was only by being a little too dumb for real life that they were able to get out of it and make the world look like the theater.


Gamze covers musical and literary news for the Arts office and writes for the WKND. She is a sophomore at Pauli Murray majoring in Psychology and Humanities.


Mahesh Agarwal writes for WKND. Originally from New Hampshire, he is a sophomore at Branford College and is temporarily majoring in history or environmental studies.

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