I woke up early today to prepare for my annual trip to St. Louis (Home.) Because I am a chronic procrastinator, I had not packed a stitch of clothing three hours before my plane was to depart. I am pretty adept at packing quickly, which really means I pack everything I own. My suitcase is the size of a dresser. Anyway, I called a car and dragged my enormous bag downstairs, along with a hiking backpack and my purse. (Told you, I packed everything.) The car arrived while I was still struggling with my bags and trying to lock the front door. The driver parked, sat in the car and stared. I said to myself “Well, I guess he’s not getting out, I hope he reminds me to do something nice for him.” When I started down the front steps, the driver’s face turned to panic. He opened the car door and slowly got out. As he headed for the front steps, I quickly realized he was a stroke victim (I am a jerk.) He stumbled up the steps to help me, while I said, “Oh no, don’t worry about it,” but his male pride took over and he dragged my bag down the outside steps and threw it into the trunk. (It’s now confirmed, I am a jerk.) When I got into the car he said, “Uh, where you, uh going.” And now I realize he doesn’t speak English and my Spanish is rusty at best. So we found a strange way to communicate through my broken Spanish and his broken English and we got to Laguardia on time. I tipped him really well, to make up for my jerky thoughts.
When I got into the terminal, the security line was so long and dense I couldn’t see the ticket counters. It zig zagged through the entire front ticket area and looked to be at least an hour-long. I get really itchy in lines and this experience was no exception. I started to pick out people from the line that I hoped were not on my plane. There was an old lady in a bad wig, dragging a small dog carrier by the shoulder strap. The dog was perched on top of the carrier like he was riding on a sled. She stopped to ask a question of the Indian American TSA agent managing the line. As the TSA agent began to answer, the old lady cut her off and said “Well you aren’t from here, you don’t speak English, never mind. I thought, here’s hoping that “bag” won’t be on my plane. Then there was the French family who spent their time screaming at each other. Although, screaming in French is prettier than in English, it’s still screaming. The father was also on his cell phone during most of this. Sometimes he would pull the phone away from his ear, add his two cents to the argument and then resume his phone conversation. When he got to the screener, he did the most reasonable thing, I have seen anyone do. He stood, blocked the line and continued his cell phone conversation for about ten minutes. I didn’t want them on my plane either, but because they were French I figured I was pretty safe they wouldn’t be. I finally got out of the security line with time to spare. So, I headed down to my gate, which turned out to be a door to the tarmac. You know the ones, where you board a bus to get to your plane. These are the worst gates, because they are usually boarding eight planes, that are all leaving within five minutes of each other, from one door.
There were hoards of people standing around, frantic, frustrated and confused. Everyone was crowded around the desk, poised and ready to run as soon as their plane was called. As I was standing around, I noticed this Yuppy couple with a toddler. The mother was running around with her toddler strapped to her in a Baby Bjorn yelling at her husband to, “Get the toy, get the toy, get the toy!!!” The husband was on the floor digging through the diaper bag frantically trying to follow his wife’s directions with no success. His wife finally rushed over and reached down and snatched the toy out of the bag. The child seemed to be completely unfazed, although the mother was acting like it was the kid causing the drama. I prayed they wouldn’t be on my plane.
The agents finally called pre-boarding for my flight and I did what I never do. I took the out, used my height and pre-boarded. It was wrong, I fully admit it, but I couldn’t deal any more. Once on the plane, I felt a little more relaxed. The flight attendants had Christmas carols playing over the speaker and I settled into my seat, but the solace was not to last. The old lady with the dog appeared and sat across the aisle one row ahead of me. About five minutes later, the Yuppy couple appeared on the plane. The mother and toddler sat in first class, which was only three rows ahead of me. The father was in coach. (He seemed relieved.) This was going to be a long two hours for the rest of us in the front of the plane.
The drama started early, when this other couple arrived and stood next to the row where the Crazy Dog Lady was sitting. The man said, “Excuse me ma’am but you are in one of our seats.” Crazy Dog Lady responded with, “No, no this is my seat.” He said, “Well, we don’t really care if you sit there, but we have to have two seats, where is your seat?” Her response was, “No this is my seat sorry.” The couple sat down in the row in front of me, I guess deciding that it wasn’t worth the fight. But, then the owners of those seats arrived and they had to get up. Long story short, the ground crew was called and they asked the “CDL” to get up, which then started an argument. The crew woman kept asking the Crazy Dog Lady for her boarding pass which she of course didn’t have, so the ticket desk was called and it turns out she was supposed to be in the row in front of where she was. Everyone sat down in their respective seats and things seemed calm down again. That is, until we backed away from the gate and Yuppy Mommy stood up and started frantically rocking her baby and pacing up and down the aisle. The flight attendant got on the loud speaker and said, “Please sit down, we can’t leave until everyone is sitting down.” Yuppy Mommy obliged, but not before rolling her eyes and taking a deep breath. We finally took off twenty minutes late, but at least we were in the air. Things seemed like they were going to be calm. There were no babies crying, the crazy dog lady’s meds seemed to have kicked in and Yuppy Mommy seemed to have mellowed out.
But wait, I spoke too soon. The captain turned the seat belt sign off and as if on cue, Yuppy Mommy jumped up from her seat and started bouncing the baby up and down the aisle. She went into the flight attendant area and stood in their way. Then she started dancing with the baby down the coach aisle, shoving her child’s feet into everyone’s face. (The Baby was not moving. She showed no signs of being awake.) The flight attendants had to walk around her to serve drinks. A couple of times the attendants said, “Excuse me,” but YM acted perturbed like the attendants were in “Her” way. I prayed for sleep, but it didn’t come. It couldn’t, the guy next to me was elbowing me in the side every time he turned the page of his newspaper. This seemed to be the longest two hours of my life. If I wasn’t being assaulted by YM and her Baby Bjorn, I was being elbowed in the gut by the guy next to me. The eleventh time the guy elbowed me, I groaned and he stopped.
Back to Yuppy Mommy. She had to be told several more times to sit down, including during landing. She spotted Crazy Dog Lady and decided that her child had asked to pet the dog. (The baby had not asked to pet the dog. She hadn’t even seen it, she was asleep.) The flight attendants had enough and walked up to “YM” and asked her to please sit in her seat, so we could land. She finally did, but only begrudgingly. When we finally landed, I jumped out of my seat as soon as I possibly could and ran out of the plane to freedom. I may have left stuff behind, but my freedom was more important. I have never been so happy to see an airport terminal. Freedom Sweet Freedom!!!
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!!