tl;dr It is the spontaneous and unexpected that often make for nice memories.
“If your flight gets canceled, call me to pick you up” said my cousin after dropping me off at the airport. One hour later my flight was canceled due to snow in Atlanta. “We can arrange for a flight but you’ll get there at 9pm, unless you would like a first class seat on tomorrow’s flight.” said the airline employee. Yep, she said “first class”, I remember it very well, but this was at a city bordering Mexico, maybe she care more about getting the message communicated quickly. I took the “first class” option, and in a minute they printed my ticket (it was the first time I got a ticket with a row number consisting of 1 digit).
Instead of calling my cousin, I took the city bus back to downtown. Then I called a friend on the Mexico side of the border (using the US 800 number that his company has, and then just typing his 5-digit extension number). He picked me up on the Mexico side (after I walked across one of the bridges that connects US to Mexico). Then we went back to his (cubicle) office. “Can you wait 1 hour before going for lunch?” he said. The idea was that we would go for lunch with other three people, all of whom I’ve met before when I was also a cubicle-employee. We went to a good restaurant, affordable to them because they were single with no kids, and to me because I had US dollars paying for food in Mexico (I was on a graduate student budget).
Good friends, good food, good times. It was a great excuse to have a long lunch break for them because I was there. We talked about where other friends got jobs at, who was finally dating, and so on and so forth. All thanks to the spontaneous and unexpected flight cancellation due to snow in Atlanta airport. Would any of this be possible 10 years later? unlikely. People have kids, busy kids. (Caterina Fake’s post is highly recommended). Among my friends that have kids, only the “least responsible”, or artsy, or with fewer “resources” are the ones that do not have their schedule affected by kids activities. These friends are the best for scheduling play-dates though.
I’ve heard stories of people missing their flight, which then brought nice experiences of exploring whatever city they were stuck at for a day. If given the choice of which connecting city to be stuck at for a day, I’ll likely choose the city where I have more friends that have no children, just to increase the chance that such friends are available. Otherwise, I’m stuck with just a coffee break, or with this comment by a friend that said: “let’s talk while my daughter is at ballet, it is 1 whole hour!”. On the other hand, I do not flight often anymore.