Keep Calm and Buy Booze in the Duty Free Shop

Every 6 months, I fly from wherever we happen to live, to Davenport, Iowa, to visit my Aunt Barby. She is my dad’s older sister, a retired school teacher, spinster, and she could use a daughter around every once in a while. I love her and I love to help her, but I seem to have a travelshitmagnet that activates on all my trips to see her.

1st leg of my trip and my travelshitmagnet is working on full battery power. Before I left Jasper, I deliberately updated my Garmin online, to prevent any weird “Recalculating” glitches hitting me mid-highway. Well, the update ended up giving the Garmin little hiccups, and during the drive through the city of Calgary this morning, every other word coming out of her was, “Recalculating.” All I could do was laugh through my tears, as I drove in circles.No problem no problem – the highways signs brought me to the airport eventually.

At the airport, I stressed myself in the long-term parking garage, trying to commit to memory, the exact spot that I parked my car, so when I return in 10 days I don’t find myself wandering around like a pathetic Gretel, sans Hansel, searching for the breadcrumb trail to my car. I had installed an app in my phone a lonnnng time ago, that is supposed to help you in this exact type of situation. Trouble is, I couldn’t remember how to use the damned app. Hashimoto’s strikes again. I finally took a picture of the concrete pole I was parked next to. No problem no problem!

Wheeling my luggage into the main terminal, I checked-in, went through Homeland Security (I love how you can walk behind the ticket counters at Calgary International Airport in Canada, and in a few steps, you are on U.S. territory…it’s like time travel or something – you don’t even need to get on an airplane, and there you are on U.S. soil). The flight was delayed. First for 13 minutes, then for 25 minutes, but finally we boarded. The pilot told us later, when we were airborne, that the flight was delayed by “weight and balance issues.” What does that mean? Do the fat people need to be divided evenly on each side of the aisle? Did the sports freak a few seats down really need to bring his hiking boots, his skiing boots, AND his snow shoes?! It was a small plane – 2 seats on each side of the row. And for some reason, most of the passengers decided to bring ALL of their luggage as their carry-ons. With few exceptions, it seems that most of them ignored the rules about what constitutes legitimate carry-ons (this explains the “weight and balance issues” the pilot was talking about). And nobody likes to put their bags under the seat in front of them, so all the overhead bins were taken by the time I boarded. No problem no problem- I don’t mind resting my feet on my carry-on. Let’s just get this damn plane off the ground – I have a connecting flight to catch on the other side! The poor flight attendants began to play musical-overhead bins when some of the bags were so big the bin doors wouldn’t close. Still, it seemed we were almost ready to take off. Until the female attendant discovered a pair of crutches hidden under a seat. She asked the passengers around, if everyone was comfortable with the crutches stretching under 2 sets of seats, and was told, “this is absolutely unacceptable” by some crotchety old lady. The flight attendant patiently began to rearrange the overhead bins again, and my poor seat mate finally nudged me and whispered, “help me keep an eye on my leather jacket – it’s changed bins 6 times. I feel like I’m playing a cup game on a street corner in New York.” Sure enough, I turned away just ONCE and I lost it. Good thing it wasn’t a small child or a puppy; later, when the flight landed, it took a few minutes, but the jacket was found at the front of the plane. During this musical overhead bin show time, the plane started taxiing down the runway, and the female flight attendant actually had to get on the phone and tell the pilot to stop. So he stopped. On the runway. I fully expected the traffic jam to cause other planes to honk their horns, but airline pilots are much more polite than the rest of us drivers.

My seat mate was a lovely old man from Medicine Hat (for my ‘Merricun friends, it’s the Canadian equivalent of the town of Mayberry. And my seat mate was Andy Griffith). He said he liked small towns, and never wanted to live in a big city like Chicago, but “it sure is amazing to visit the big city! And, oh my, what about those flight delays? And would you take a gander at the male flight attendant? His eyebrows are quite elegant, and his earrings are diamonds bigger than my wife has! And how do you stay so calm when you might miss your next flight?” I told him that there really weren’t any other options than to stay calm. I had spare clothes in my carry-on in case I missed my flight, and fussing wouldn’t make the plane fly faster. What I didn’t mention was that I had stopped at the Duty Free Shop and purchased a giant bottle of Grey Goose vodka, and it was happily nestled in my spare clothes, inside my carry-on. Every time I felt myself begin to panic about missing my flight, I pictured a shot of Grey Goose on the rocks, with a squeeze of lime. No problem no problem.

5 minutes before we landed in Chicago, the female flight attendant got on the intercom and lightheartedly told us not to worry, we were only delayed by 45 minutes, and we should all be fine, as long as the people who were not connecting to further flights would stay seated so the rest of us could run like mad beasts for our departure gates. Oh. And did we forget to tell you that we are landing in Terminal F and you need to run to terminal E to take a shuttle bus to Terminal C? That’s right, we’ll be landing in Terminal F-you. I had exactly 15 minutes to make it clear across the airport to get on the last plane to Moline, Illinois. Well, I ran like Hell and made it – the last one to board. It turns out, I needn’t have run, because we were stuck on the runway for an hour after that. This pilot told us we were “inexplicable delayed.” Not possible. Inexplicable is aliens landing their aircraft on the runway and us having to wait until they disembark their aircraft before we proceed. Inexplicable is a plague of locusts splattered on the windshield of the plane, blocking the pilots’ view. For the rest of the rational world, there is always an explanation. What was that pilot hiding? Somehow, I thought crutches were involved. During this time, I felt a hot flash coming on, so I aimed the overhead fan towards me. And I discovered my new seat mate forgot to brush his teeth…after drinking all night last night. And also, he forgot to bathe. And the fan kept blowing his aroma my way. No problem, no problem. I made it onto the plane, I’m almost at Aunt Barby’s. And there is Grey Goose waiting on the other side.

I should have bought a bigger bottle. After waiting at the luggage carousel in Moline, through 3 airplanes’ worth of luggage, I decided to face the fact that, while I was running to catch the plane to Moline, the guy who was carrying my suitcase to the same plane, stopped to pick his nose. Maybe I was spared having to spend the night in Chicago, but my luggage will be spending the night there. We’ll be reunited tomorrow, and all will be well in the universe. Actually, I’m not stressed. I’m safe at my Aunt Barby’s house, I have spare clothes in my carry-on, and I have a double shot of Grey Goose on the rocks. No lime, but no problem no problem!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Catherinette
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 17:47:11

    You, fine lady, have most certainly earned that bottle of vodka. And a six pack of cupcakes. Holy shit. What an awful trip. Glad you made it safely!



  2. lynnkaylor
    Mar 10, 2013 @ 09:07:44

    Whew girl, traveling is certainly not as fun as it used to be anymore. .

    Have a great visit. And cheers!

    Sent via the Smartphone, which isn’t always brilliant.  Please excuse the typos.



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