Just got back from Chicago for Drew and Danielle’s wedding. It was in the upper 80’s to maybe 90º with some humidity up there. They (those from up there) think it was hot. Where I’m from, we call that kind of weather “spring.”
Once we returned back to Dallas and Lauren and I stepped outside of D/FW airport to wait for David and Ryan to pick us up, though, we were slapped in the face with the fact that we weren’t in Chicago anymore. Yep, we were definitely back in Texas — in August. Hello, 97°F heat PLUS humidity.
For someone who hasn’t been on a plane in I can’t tell you how many years — did I still use a flip phone at the time? — I think I did remarkably well. With all the hub bub in the news over the last several years about mean TSA agents, even meaner flight attendants and entitled passengers (you know who you are), why would I want to fly? My entire goal through the whole airport/ airplane/ travel ordeal was to stay “under the radar.”
I made sure that I left all objects that might be misconstrued as “weapons” home — so no toenail clippers or tweezers or razors. I decided that when we landed, I would buy my necessary grooming essentials — shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, etc. there. Matter of fact, I bought $60 worth of tiny bottles of stuff at the Walgreens in Chicago — all because I wasn’t about to provide cause to have my carry-on bag or purse rifled through and asked, “What is this?” or to be looked at with severe consternation and told, “No, you can’t take that with you, you have to throw that item away!” — not to mention getting detained and wanded or even worse, searched.
It was bad enough having to stand in the airport’s body scanner with my hands held high above my head so they could give me the once over to see if I was hiding some foreign object in areas of my body that I’d prefer not to have exposed — but again, better that than having an actual body cavity search.
No thank you.
I also made sure that I had one bag within the accepted parameters for carry-on’s and my purse with me. All was good until we were about to board the plane and we were handing our boarding passes to the ticket agent.
My daughter in her infinite wisdom thought that she could pull a fast one and wear her mini-purse strapped across her body as well as take her laptop and her carry-on suitcase. The agent told her that she had too many carry-on items and that she would have to check her bag. Thank God I had enough room in my adult purse to stuff her mini-purse aka Carry-on Item No. 3 in it, which brought Lauren back down to the two-bag rule. Of course, once I did that, the agent then made Lauren put her carry-on luggage in their “you-must-be-this-tall-to-ride-on-this-ride” measuring device because she told us that Lauren’s luggage looked too big to store in the overhead bins on the plane.
Oh, really? Lauren’s carry on luggage was the exact same size as mine, which was well within American Airline’s size specifications and looked very similar to this —
So, of course, it fit. But because Lauren gave the agent a hard time by trying to get away with (3) carry-on items, I guess the agent decided to return the favor by making us sweat it out. And that’s why it does not pay to tempt fate or airline agents,
David, who often flies for business, has this flying nonsense down pat. He made the arrangements for Lauren’s and my flight and even printed out our boarding passes at home. Of course that meant that I just needed to hang onto said boarding passes long enough to make it onto the plane. I have ADHD, y’all. Everyone who knows me knows better than to hand me any single sheet of paper.
1) I won’t remember you gave me a piece of paper.
2) I won’t remember what I did with something I don’t remember ever having touched.
It’s as simple as that. DON’T HAND ME A PIECE OF PAPER IF YOU EXPECT ME TO COUGH IT UP AGAIN! I JUST DON’T WORK THAT WAY!
David wisely held onto our boarding passes until the last minute when we exited our car, then he gave them to Lauren, who held onto them until I actually needed to hold mine in my hands at the safety check.
Once Lauren and I found Gate 13 for our departing flight, I went up to the counter to let the agents know that Lauren and I had arrived and to see if there was anything else we needed to do before they asked us to board. The ticket agent seemed amused and said that I should just find a seat until they called our group. Lauren looked a little embarrassed but she politely waited for me to follow her to sit down.
I’m not superstitious exactly, but I’m just saying that departing from Gate “13” didn’t inspire a lot of confidence that we were going to have a safe flight. And the knowledge that we were leaving from “Gate 13” kept a steady background hum in my noggin along with the fact that we were flying on 8/3/18, which it occurred to me, was kind of like flying on 9/11 in reverse, if you see what I mean (not that I’m into numerology or any of that silliness.) I mean if ever there were to be another attack like the one we had on 9/11, though, it just seemed like these numbers added up. Anyway, the fact of the matter was that this information was something I was keenly aware of and it was just there — simmering around in my head along with Gate 13 — while I patiently waited. And kept my mouth shut.
I kept my mouth shut because I have a super power, y’all. That power is to “stir shit up” by bringing up things that are sometimes better left unsaid. Once I’ve voiced a provocative bit of info (like the above), it kind of has a tendency to take on a life of its own. The thing is, most people don’t think about these things. For those of us that do — again — the majority of us just keep our mouths shut. However, for me to keep my mouth shut is about as hard for me to do as holding onto a single sheet of paper all day long without losing it. Still, I knew that if I brought up what was buzzing around in my head to Lauren in a normal speaking voice, this would have created a — moment. Once people realized that what I was saying was true about our gate number and the date, I have no doubt that some would have panicked, and I probably would have left the airport less on the plane and more in handcuffs inside a patrol car. My guess is that neither David nor Lauren would have been impressed.
So while we sat and waited at Gate 13 — and to distract myself more than anything — I asked Lauren whether we should take this time to put our phones on “airplane mode.” I have no idea what that means, exactly, but I know we have it on our handheld devices and we were supposed to do this at some point, so I just thought — why not do that now while I was thinking about it and to keep me busy so I wouldn’t blurt out something I might have ended up regretting? Lauren, who was actually doing something on her phone at the time, decided that I just needed to calm down and she would let me know when it came time to put phones on airplane mode, and that I shouldn’t do anything until then. So I entertained myself by listening to Ozzy in my head.
Apparently, a frequent flyer aka a stranger was watching our interaction and was amused by Lauren and me. He asked where we were going and then asked to look at my piece of paper. He handed it back to me and advised that when they called out Group 4, we head toward the line to board because we were in Group 6. He said he wasn’t going to Chicago but home to Salt Lake City. Then he looked at my bag and said, “Uhm, I hate to tell you this, but you’re going to have to check your luggage. It’s too big.” If I’d known him, I would have yelled, “LIAR,” straight to his face. However, since I didn’t know him and because he offered us sage advice about when to get in line (because until he mentioned it, I had no idea I was in Group 6 or that there were even any group numbers that were being called out to board the plane), I just gave him the stink eye and said, “You’re yanking my chain, aren’t you?” Then he fessed up. Lauren, however, freaked out a little when he said that and I looked at her and said, “Really, Lauren? Don’t be silly. Look around you. Our luggage choices are fine.” About that time, Group 4 was summoned to board and we said goodbye to the frequent flyer. Of course, we told each other to have an uneventful trip (what one says in lieu of “break a leg” when flying), and I will probably never see this person again in my life. So there’s that.
Once we got our final okay from the ticket agent and were allowed to actually board the plane, we walked through the long tunnel and stood in line for another five to ten minutes waiting for those ahead of us to board the plane, place their stuff in the overhead bins and then sit down. The woman right behind me said to her husband, “I bet there’s someone who pushed their way to be first in line and is now holding everyone else up because they don’t know how to put their luggage in the bin properly! It’s probably a bag that’s too big and should have been checked in the first place!”
I tentatively glanced back at the woman behind me and that’s when my mouth flew open, “Are you judging me already?” I asked. “I figure if anyone’s going to have trouble getting her luggage into the bin, it’s going to be me and I’m so sorry in advance!” I said to her. “I feel so judged. There is definitely judgment in the air!”
She said, “No, no. It’s okay. I’m sorry. I get a little impatient because we have to fly so often and I forget that not everyone flies as much as we do, so it sometimes takes them awhile to get their stuff put away. It’s okay, though. Really. You’ll be fine.”
Lauren piped up, “Well, now that it’s been stated and is out there in the open, it’ll probably be me who screws it up for everyone. I mean I feel confident I can do this simple task, but when push comes to shove and the pressure’s on for me to get my bag up into the bin the right way the first time, there’s no telling what I’ll do. I feel like now I’ve been jinxed and I’m going to have all eyes on me and then I won’t be able to perform. Listen, y’all, performance anxiety is a real thing, which makes normally easy things to do exceedingly difficult if not impossible — all because you’ve become self-conscious about it.”
So, yeah, lady, see what you started? Both Lauren and I started panicking.
Since we were one of the last people boarding, it seemed, and we were all the way back in Row 27, I felt sure that all of the bins would be full. As we entered the plane, I could clearly see that all of the bins appeared to be full. This did not bode well. I told Lauren that as soon as she saw an open bin, she should grab it and just get her luggage put away as soon as she could. Lauren ignored me. As we stood and waited in the first class section of the plane, I saw space in a half full bin. Lauren was standing in front of me and I yelled at her, “Look, Babe. There’s an empty one there. Take it!” She told me, “That’s okay, Mom. I’ll wait.”
So as we continued to stand there and since she wasn’t going to take it, I threw my carry-on up into the bin, much to the amazement of all the people sitting in first class, who were wondering why this plebeian felt the need to intrude upon the sanctity of their space with her bedraggled luggage. No one said anything. It was all silent eye rolls and shakes of disapproving heads. I thought — well, fuck them. I might not be able to fly first class, but by God, my luggage was going to! I held my head high as I walked unencumbered down to my seat toward the back of the plane.
Who knew there would be so many empty bins down where we sat? Apparently, Lauren, that’s who. She hoisted her luggage up like an old pro and we sat down. At that moment, a few things occurred to me.
1) The people in first class were not happy with my decision to leave my luggage with them.
2) I couldn’t see all the way to the first class section from where we sat.
3) What if someone in first class decided to take revenge by taking my luggage? It would take so long for me to get to the front of the plane that whoever might do this would be gone a solid 15-20 minutes before I ever got close.
Lauren didn’t help matters. “See,” she told me. “I don’t have that problem. I can keep an eye on my belongings.”
So I called my daughter the “B” word for not the first and probably not the last time. “BRAT.”
I’m generally not scared of flying; though, when I broke out in a sweat and turned white and then green and then shut my eyes to calm myself, Lauren assumed this was the case. I finally told her, “No, Babe. I’m not scared. I get motion sickness. I’ve had it since I was a kid and I’m in the throes of it right now.”
I’m sure that sitting in the middle seat didn’t help matters. The problem was that my peripheral vision kept seeing movement outside Lauren’s window. Unfortunately, we hadn’t even started moving yet. But the luggage carts were moving outside, which made it seem like the plane was moving and that was no bueno for me. I finally made Lauren shut the window shade, which helped immensely.
Once we got up in the air, Lauren opened her shade again and she was able to see all of the fluffy white clouds outside. Apparently, fluffy white clouds equal turbulence.
There’s a reason I don’t ride rollercoasters anymore and that’s exactly what it felt like we were on — a freaking rollercoaster all the way from Dallas to Chicago. I spent most of the flight with my eyes closed.
Unfortunately, at one point, I opened my eyes just in time to catch a glimpse of the movie, I, Tonya, playing on the passenger’s video screen ahead of me. Why the hell would someone watch that movie on a flight? And what was Tonya doing on the screen? Spinning, of course, which put my motion sickness back into motion.
After I earped that first time, which I quickly swallowed back down, my stomach seemed to settle a bit. The pretzels and ginger ale helped too. Seriously, though, it was all too much.
Last but not least, there was the idiot woman who was trying to make her way to the bathroom while we were descending! We’d all been instructed to remain in our seats with our seat belts on and this woman decides that means everyone but her. So, yeah, she stood up and the moment she did, everyone on the plane got to hear the flight attendant say in a tone I wouldn’t want to defy, “YOU. SIT DOWN. RIGHT NOW. AND PUT YOUR SEAT BELT ON. I WILL NOT TELL YOU AGAIN! WE ARE DESCENDING!” which basically equated to “YOU STUPID BITCH! GET YOUR ASS BACK IN YOUR SEAT AND DON’T MAKE ME TELL YOU TWICE! WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU? ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY! THE PLANE’S TRYING TO LAND, YOU IDIOT!”
Don’t mess with the flight attendants, y’all. They mean business.
After that, as we descended, I closed my eyes again and in my mind I “climbed aboard the dream weaver train.” Thank you, Gary Wright. He helped me make it through the