Missed flight #1 because all spaces at Reagan National Airport were taken. Ended up parking in super-expensive valet area. Disabused of rumors that valet parking is much faster than economy parking.
Get ticket for flight #2. Check-in man swears I have an actual ticket, not stand-by.
While going through security, I think I hear someone saying something about a flight to Chicago. While total stranger is feeling me-up in search of more than 3+ ounces of shampoo, I hear it again.
I get to gate. Flight is cancelled. I must return to check-in counter. Spend 1 hour negotiating new flight to Chicago as my ticket was stand-by according to the computer after all. Am now on 4:30 flight. Actually feel lucky am on 4:30 flight, since all the talk had been about going stand-by on much later flights. Suspect said chatter is generated on purpose in furtherance of hidden policy of making passengers feel fortunate when getting news that should make them angry. Am now waiting for 4:30 flight. Fingers: Crossed.