I find myself sitting here with so much to catch you up on, so very much to write, that I don’t know what to say! How’s that for irony?
I suppose I should begin with my travels since they are what I have already alluded to.
I appologize for how long this will be but if you’re going to tell it tell it right…
My flight to New York was wonderful. Quiet and uneventful and I had not one person sitting within two rows of me on any side. The flight attendant adopted me because she said passengers just don’t come any easier than me. She brought me extra snacks and drinks whenever she had a free moment! It was nice to be pampered! You just can’t ask for better!
My flight to Phoenix from New York was quite another story.
(My layover in New York will be a story for another day as I was privileged to meet a woman who has become a lifelong friend for me and I want to give her and our visit top billing!!!)
I boarded the plane feeling content and excited to find that I did have a neighbor this time but it was only a two seat row with no one behind us and extra recline. No sweat. Until we were about an hour out of Phoenix, oh yes then the sweating began!
I had fallen asleep, rocked by the plane and the constant sound of the engine… when I was suddenly startled awake by my stomach forcing its way up my throat. We were falling! I don’t mean one of those little air pocket falls where you have a split second to wonder… if… and then the plane catches, all is well, and you are left to enjoy a little punch of adrenaline.
No, no my friends. I mean when I opened my eyes I was looking down the length of the plane and my hair was swinging forward away from my shoulders. I mean from the time I awoke until the time normal flight resumed again I had time to seriously wonder if this was the end, say a prayer for my sins, and get all the way to high school in my life flashing before my eyes.
The worst part? The sound! I was sitting right over the engine and it was screaming. I know in my head it’s because we were in an air pocket and the engine was sucking air much like a vacuum will do when you pick it up off the carpet while it’s running. But my head wasn’t the part of me in control. It sounded like a T-Rex straight out of Jurassic Park. Somehow I would have felt more comfortable if it had been a T-Rex!
This happened three times in the hour before we touched down and every second in between these dramatic moments were filled with horrible turbulence. The kind where air bags are used and flight attendants stay in their seats. The kind where all you hear are hundreds of those little breathless screams all at once.
And then we landed… HA! You know it’s going to be bad when you look out the window only to realize that your plane is not only bucking up and down but side to side as well and you’re only a few feet above the ground. Let’s just say I’m surprised we didn’t do a few donuts on the tarmac! But I landed safe and sound if not a little shaken!
I will draw a veil over the next three weeks as, again, there are many things I want to talk about and all of them should have their fair moment in the spotlight! I have showers, and vanity, cooking, and babies, blankets and prayer… Oh so many things to tell you, but for now, we’ll move on to the trip home.
Oh this started at almost the first moment!
We left the house a little late and there was horrible traffic. So I arrived, not late, but later than I would have liked. The line to check in for international only had about 10 people in front of me, no sweat, but only one person checking them in. After standing there becomeing increasingly worried for about 25 minutes one of the attendants checking in first class called me over to try to help out her counterpart and speed things along. I was so relieved! Boy how I wish she hadn’t helped out! I handed her my ticket information and my passport. After a few very silent moments she said…
“I’m sorry I can’t check you in. All people flying with a U.S. Passport must have a returning ticket booked and can only be in Germany for 90 days. This information is not valid for you to fly.”
I said in a puzzled way with panic building in my throat… “Well but I’m a military dependant. I live there.”
She said. “Well do you have your orders?”
(Let me break here to tell you that active duty military members have to fly with their orders but spouses don’t have orders we are simply command sponsored and have a passport.)
I said… “No I’m not active duty military I’m a dependant and I’m sorry ma’am but I have flown in and out of Germany just like this four times in the last year and you are the very first person that’s ever said that to me.”
She came back (in a very nasty tone I must say) with… “Well if I let you on the plane I would lose my job and be fined $11,000 so you’re out of luck!”
By now I was getting upset… I don’t really remember how the rest of the conversation went until she flipped through my passport again (for the third time!) and spotted my SOFA stamp, (the stamp from the U.S. government that states and I quote “The bearer is a member of a civilian component or dependant of a member of a force or civilian component of the United States of America and entitled to unrestricted entry into and exit from the Federal Republic of Germany.” So now that we have that clear.) She looked closer and actually read it this time and then got all snotty.
“Well do you see this?” (Points snottily at the stamp) “This allows you access and it’s your responsibility to point this out to me when you come to check in. How else will I know you have one?”
(Oh I don’t know, maybe because I told you that I’m a military spouse? Maybe because it’s your job to look for it? Or maybe, maybe just because you saw it three times and that’s why I didn’t mention it? Please)
Of course I didn’t say that… I smiled, played dumb, said “Oh, okay thank you so much.” Took my ticket and walked away scathing mad.
So that brings us up to security… Nothing huge there only a full body pat down and a complete unloading of both of my carry on bags which took a full 30 minutes and almost made me late for the plane all because they thought I had liquids… which I didn’t. But no big deal, that’s life and the ladies were very nice and chatty so it was actually kind of a bright spot of my day.
So then I board the plane. I must first tell you that I had booked my tickets a full two months before hand with a travel agency and had booked aisle row seats the whole way there and back due to my extreme medical condition. (Smallbladderitis!) So imagine my surprise when I arrive at my row only to find that I have a window seat. I didn’t make a fuss because the plane was full and it was a short flight so I figured I would only have to get up once. So I settled in, got out my book, and waited for departure.
So here is where the rest of my day becomes unbelievable and almost hilarious, if I hadn’t had to live it that is.
I look up to see a gaggle of nuns (would they be a gaggle or a troop or maybe a herd?) coming down the aisle. One sits next to me, one across the aisle from her, one in the seat directly in front of me and one in the seat behind the nun next to me. I nod, smile, say good morning and go back to my book. She starts in on me right away…
“Hello dear do you attend a church?”
“Yes ma’am I do, only online at the moment since I’m currently living in Germany with my husband and we have not been able to find a place to attend but we are devoted Christians.”
We chatted for a moment about Germany and the military and then fell into silence. Hoping to cut a potentially long and uncomfortable conversation short before it began, I wait a tick and when she doesn’t say anything more I resume reading. But a moment later she notices my book and exclaims…
“But what is that you’re reading?”
I glance at the cover and say, “Oh it’s called Utopia by Lincoln Child. It’s rather good so far.” I figure that was a polite answer smile at her and go back to my book. Imagine my surprise when this was the next sentence to fall upon my ears…
“Well… I thought you said you were a Christian?”
I looked up startled and said “I am.”
She made a nasty face at me and said, “Hmm…”
I choose to drop it and go back to my book. I really didn’t want five nuns to go all ninja on me at 30,000 feet! But imagine for a moment what it was like to fly five hours to Atlanta with five nuns actually craning their necks to scowl at me and rub their rosaries! What in the world am I missing here? And what kind of nuns were these?
So after a very uncomfortable flight I finally disembark in Atlanta. My flight was changed to a different gate in a separate terminal so I had to take a train but I had plenty of time and it was fun! The only regret I had was that the terminal I ended up in didn’t have a Starbucks so no last cup of coffee for me… again. Oh well.
After I had located my gate I decided to go and find some dinner since I didn’t know what or when I would eat next. I looked through the food court and didn’t see anything great so I just got in the line for McDonalds because chicken nuggets and a nice cold glass of ice tea sounded good, in a standard comfort food kind of way.
I get to the register and order the 6 piece chicken nugget meal with an ice tea.
She rolls her eyes at me and says, “We’re McDonald’s we don’t have Ice tea.”
I said, “Oh, no problem the one back home has it so I just assumed I’ll just have the power aid then.” (Very disappointed here since I hate power aid and I can’t drink soda but oh well)
She comes back with, “Well this aint back home now is it? That will be $5.46.”
I handed her my money in mute shock. (What is happening to common curtisy and decency?) At this point I’m wondering if I’ve slipped into the twilight zone because this is turning into a real hum dinger of a day!
She points down the counter and says “Go there to pick up.”
I do and a few moments later my food comes up and I fight my way to a table, unpack my book and settle in, take the first bite… only to find that my chicken nuggets are raw in the middle. Um GROSS! So I pack everything back up, take them back up there and very nicely (because I really don’t want to get in an argument with this girl… she’s mean…) say…
“Um I’m sorry to bother you but these chicken nuggets are not cooked all the way through. Is there any way I can get new ones?”
Shock and awe people shock and awe…“Oh, why not?” Getting miffed now…
“Because that’s the way they’re cooked so you’ll just have to deal.”
Really not happy now, but still not wanting a fight, “But they’re runny in the middle. I’ve eaten these for years and they are not supposed to be this way. What happened to have it your way?”
With the most horrible smug look on her face… “Nothing at all, they are my way. Eat them or don’t I don’t care.”
I just walked away stunned and angry but too tired to jump her and go all ninja. I’ll tell you what though, it’s what I really wanted to do! Do you think the nuns would have been proud I didn’t…? (Chews bottom lip) I’m really not sure.
At this point I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. I just want to get on my plane, sit in my nice aisle seat and go to sleep to end this day faster.
Only that is not what was to be.
I get on the plane and find my seat. It’s a middle seat on a row of three. I won’t take this again so I go and find a flight attendant who is very nice says she’s sorry for the mix up but the flight is full. If there are any no shows she’ll come and get me. I grumpily go back to my seat and wait.
In ten minutes I know I’ve entered the twilight zone, because I’m literally in the middle of a cliché as old as flying. First a hugely fat man (and I mean 350 pounds. I’m not judging because I used to be fat but understanding doesn’t make any more room appear in the row) sits to my left and only seconds after I start hoping that a very thin deaf AND mute person will sit to my right so I’ll have some kind of peace, here comes a young woman cradling her 3 month old fussy baby girl. And where do you think she sat? That’s right… on my right.
I am ashamed to say that at this point I actually burst into tears. Quiet beautiful tears of course. Naw I’m lying… My nose turned as red as Rudolph’s I screwed up my face and narrowly missed the howling. The only affect this had was to make the baby stop crying (in fascination) and draw unwanted attention to me. Le sigh. Everyone was very nice but as my flight attendant (who was not named Calgon and had no intentions of taking me away) informed me the flight was full and there was nothing she could do. So I sat there feeling very embarrassed and politely kept my elbows to myself.
I will again draw a veil over the remainder of my flight. You don’t need to know about the man who sat behind me and kicked my seat, calling me a big baby under his breath whenever I tried to lean back. You don’t need to know that I couldn’t read the whole flight because my reading light disturbed the baby. And you absolutely don’t need to be informed about how much a 350 pound man can drool while he snores directly in your ear. (Do you think drool crusties will come out of my favorite shirt?) Ooops I’m sorry, was that too much information?
Suffice it to say that when I crossed out of the twilight zone and stepped into my husband’s arms it was with a profound sense of relief.
Moral of my extremely long winded story? I won’t be flying Delta again anytime soon… Unless of couse they are cheapest! (What can I say? I’m cheap!)
So there you have it, the stories of my travels. I will be honest. I would find it hard to believe that all of those things happened to one person, let alone in one trip. But then again I know what happens to me EVERY time I enter a public bathroom in a Wal-Mart so I’ll believe me.
I hope that you got a few good laughs out of this. I hope to look back upon it and do my fare share of giggling once the horror has worn off. I’ll be back soon with more stories of my trip, though none will be quite as unbelievable, I promise. (And that’s really okay with me… I don’t know how much more I could have handled!)