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planes + trains + automobiles

September 10, 2012

Everyone has a travel story. It usually includes delays, sitting on runways, screaming children, and bland airplane food. Her story isn’t nearly as traumatic as his story, and I had to wait longer than you did.

Regardless, all such days feel epic, right?

That’s how Monday was for me. Now, I can’t say it was all that terrible. It was just a long, exhausting day, after a long, fun, exhausting weekend.

I’ve had travel days that were miserable, with hours spent stuck on a non-air conditioned plane. You should consider yourself lucky if you’ve never been on a flight with a barfer. Airplane ventilation isn’t exactly efficient.

Back to yesterday. We left my cousin’s house in the DC area at about 10:30, so we could be on the Metro by 11. My flight wasn’t until 2:05, but I wanted to do a little shopping at the Smithsonian store, and Dad and I wanted to have lunch.

About fifteen minutes after getting on the train, I got a call from the airline. They followed up with an email. My flight was delayed by an hour. Oh well. It’s just an hour. I had a good book to read, and I didn’t mind an extra hour on my own.

Fifteen minutes later, another call came in. They added another hour to the delay. Well, ok. This is starting to suck a little. I’ve waited longer for a flight before, but I was really ready to see my family.

Getting home two hours later wasn’t that big of a deal, but I was flying in to Columbia and also had to drive an hour before getting home. A big margarita later, and it didn’t matter as much.

It was a pretty uneventful wait, really. I bought The Boy a lollipop with a real scorpion in it and some Space ice cream, and I found the perfect shirt for him. Across the front, it says “Future President.” Once I was done shopping, I headed to the gate. Of course, I had the dreaded security line to deal with first. It wasn’t that bad, but I did marvel at the adults who seemed hassled by the extra measures. We all have to take the 3-1-1 bag of liquids out, and we all have to take our shoes off. No one really wants to do it, but we must, so we do. Get over it.

When it was time to board, and because it was a small plane, we walked outside and caught a bus that would drop us off on the tarmac. I had the good fortune of sitting next to a very, very chatty woman.  “I have a sister in Oklahoma who loves me” was stitched on her hat.  She carried a large shopping bag with a teddy bear and a pillow in it, her purse, and a carry-on tote bag. I’m sure she was very nice, but

I don’t chat with people when I’m on buses or planes. She narrated the bus’s every move. “Oh, we’re going to go there now.” “Oh, the bus driver is going to take us right to the plane.” “Oh, the bus driver is going to open the door now.” Boy, I’m sure glad you were there to help us, lady. I can see why your sister loves you so.

Right as we were about to get off the bus, everyone’s cell phones started ringing. It was the airline, letting us know there’d be another delay. We could see the plane, but we weren’t allowed off the bus. Oklahoman’s sister kept talking until the doors finally opened.

I boarded to find someone in my seat. Because I can read a diagram, I was 100% sure that seat F (my seat) was supposed to be a window seat.  Because I didn’t want to chit chat, I gladly sat in the aisle seat. Believe it or not, I do know when to keep my mouth shut.

The flight, although a little bumpy, was quick and easy. I slept most of the way. When we finally landed in Columbia, they instructed us to retrieve our gate-checked bags at the top of the jet way. Together still, we waited. I heard the gate agent call for a wheel chair, and then more conversation including “no, I think she already got it and is walking up the jet way.”

And wouldn’t you know it? Oklahoma sister lady (OKSL) comes up with the wheelchair. Before you tell me that I should feel guilty for talking about her as I have, just know this: she wasn’t riding in the wheelchair. She was using it to cart her junk around. She actually said “I don’t need to RIDE in it. I just need it to put my stuff in!”

My car wouldn’t start at first, I’d left coffee with now sour milk in the cup holder, and I passed four serious accidents on the hour-long drive from the airport. I could’ve driven from DC and been home sooner, but whatever. I was home. And OKSL was, too.

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