Never Leaving Home Again, Part II
When last we left me, I was facing a long line of security (my second round in 15 minutes) thanks to an erring airport worker. . .
My Trip Home
Written by Jenny B. Jones
Opening Scene: Miami Airport
(insert sound of Jenny's Tears)
It's finally time for my flight from Miami to Chicago. From Chicago I will get to Arkansas. And when I'm in Arkansas, I'm home! After getting to bed at midnight that morning, rising at two, being denied Dasani, and being on a plane all day, I am exhausted.
So we board the flight to Chicago.
And then we sit.
Finally, the pilot comes on the speaker. “Our computer isn't working. We have a backup, and we're going to try and use that.”
You're going to TRY and use that? And when will we know if this is a success? Upon landing? Upon, “Oh, wow, good thing we just dodged that mountain?” And when would we know if it was a failure–when we're nose down in the ocean?
I try not to get worried. Honestly, I was too hot to be too concerned with a piddly little thing like crucial airplane parts. Because apparently the air conditioning wasn't working. We continued to sit, and people started getting upset. I could feel the heat from the Miami pavement coming up through the floor. (Which caused me to think, “Why can I feel air AT ALL from the floor? This plane needs my caulking gun.”)
The updates continued, transitioning from “spare computer won't work” to “we're waiting for parts.” The flight attendants started passing out ice water and snacks. An hour and a half goes by. And hour and a half with NO AIR. Finally, “We're moving you to another plane. Please get your sweaty butts off this aircraft.”
Another hour-and-a-half later, we are boarded on the new plane. THREE HOURS have passed. Pilot comes on the speaker, “We're about ready to go. Oh, wait, we just found out there is no gas on this plane. We better get some.” Okay, that's it. When we take-off, I am so using my Kindle. And you can't stop me.
We sit there long enough that my Large Wendy's tea has gone straight to my bladder (the role of Jenny's bladder will be played by a small peanut), so I go straight to the back. A male flight attendant stands near the bathroom door. “Can I use that?”
“Sure.” Sir Flight Attendant fails to remind me if we're not in the air, the WATER doesn't work. So I get all soaped up and…no water. I exit the bathroom. “There is no water.”
The flight attendant doesn't spare me a glance. “Nope.”
So I go back to my seat with foamy, sticky, soapy hands, with visions of a drink cart mowing down one particular flight attendant.
So someone obviously fills our plane up, and we take to the skies. By the time we land in Chicago, it is 8:30 pm, and I have long since missed my connection. I have also long since lost my filter and am grateful I'm not wearing my Never the Same mission trip tshirt, as did the other 350 participants. Because I had stopped representing the Faithful about ten hours ago and had crossed over to the Dark and Whiny side. I go to one of the American Airlines gates, tell them my situation. “You need to go over there.” She waves down the hall. “Go talk to American Airlines.” Um…I am talking to American Airlines. I ask her for directions to “over there” and she adds a chin jerk with her hand wave. Oh, THAT over there.
Waling down the hall, I stop at one gate and wait forever, never moving. I leave. I continue walking, yet see no magical spot with flashing lights that say, “Lost? Tired? Hungry? Here is your spot,” so I stop at another gate. That woman ends up being a flight attendant and truly can't help me, but nicely points to a bank of phones. I end up calling American Airlines, and after configuring/reconfiguring every flight possibility, it is determined I'm not getting out that night. “But if you fly me to Buffalo to Houston to Little Rock…No? Okay, how about Alberta to Heathrow to Dallas then Tulsa?”
The woman on the phone says, “You're going to have to spend the night in Chicago. And you need to talk to an actual person in the airport to get your vouchers.”
I said, “Ma'am, I've been trying to talk to a real person for 45 minutes.”
“You're in a major airport. You're in Chicago. There should be American Airlines people all around you.”
“You would think so!” By this time, I am out of my mind tired. And I've just been told it's all for naught, as I won't be going home. To my bed. Which is on the ground. With air conditioning.
So I keep walking down the nearly-deserted gate. (Seriously, it was 9 pm. WHERE was everyone?) and finally, finally find a counter where there were some folks working. There are two people, and I know immediately which one will be waiting on me when it's my turn. The crabby old lady who just got off her Lemon Sucking Break. I wait, wait, wait. Finally my turn. Crabby Lemon Face asks what I need. I tell her my story. “Are you American or American Eagle?” she asks. Lady, I'm TICKED OFF CUSTOMER. She says some stuff about how she shouldn't help me, about how it's going to come back on her. I have no idea what she's talking about, but with the last dregs of my energy, I give her my Teacher Stare No. 5, reserved for boys who throw gang signs and girls who forget bras. She prints out some vouchers.
I take my dinner voucher and go find something to eat. This is all I see.
The picture is hard to decipher, so let me tell you what it is. A CLOSED FOOD COURT. At 9:00 pm. In a major airport. To be fair, McDonalds was open, but I wanted real food. (Can you hear the violins getting louder…?) I find a Dunkin Donuts and buy a water and a banana. The guy rings it up. “Do you need anything else?”
“A new life.” This literally came out of my mouth. See, in my head lives a narrator from an 80s sitcom. Because this is where the scene would've faded. This is where we would gone to a commercial for Midol.
So then I get sent downstairs to find out if my bags went on to Arkansas or are somewhere in the airport being held captive. I walk up to the baggage desk.Tell the guy my story.
“I need my bag if it's here.”
“Ma'am, baggage shuts down at ten. You aren't going to be able to get your bag.”
“It's 9:30.” I lean over the counter. “Are you telling me closing time is at ten, but they do a warm-up closing at 9:30?” Teacher Stare No. 4 (for spit wadders).
“I'll go get your bag.”
Baggage Dude comes back 15 minutes later. “I saw your bag. Does it have a purple tag?”
“Yes. Where is it?”
“I can't bring it. I have to put in a work order.” Ten minutes later….
“Okay, so your bag will be coming out in about 20 minutes. You need to go get it over–Oh, hey! Jason! Dude! Hold up!” Baggage man leaves mid-sentence. LEAVES.
My head whips to the other guy behind the desk. “While your friend is hugging it out, can you tell me where my bag will be?”
Twenty minutes later, my bag shoots out of Conveyor Number Nine. I catch the shuttle to my hotel, Comfort Inn and Suites. Remember this name. Because you do not want to stay here. This is where you send your enemies and unloved relatives.
I'm on the shuttle and the driver is so nice and cheery. And I'm thinking, it doesn't take much, does it? Just to be positive? My evening is totally turning around.
I get to the front desk. Super kind folks. They tell me I can use my voucher for the restaurant, but there's a private party going on. I just go straight to my room.
And this place is nasty. As my friend Snow Loving Holly says, “Pay by the hour motel” nasty. And it's creepy. I walk into my room…and it's like I just stepped in the club. Turns out my room is directly over the restaurant. And they are getting down. Walls are shaking. The bass is surely in my room. I take my bags and go right back down the creepy hall with the stained carpet and get in the creepy elevator and go to the desk.
“Hi, can I get a different room? Any one will do.” I don't really need to explain the situation. The fact that the bags under my eyes have doubled in size is probably explanation enough.
The guy gives me a look. “I can put you on the sixth floor.” (Insert weird pause) “Are you okay with that?”
“Sounds good.” I would sleep on the roof at this point.
“Okay,” he says. “Let me go make sure it's clean. And safe.”
I sit there for a second. Then I hear the voices of my sainted and worry-ridden mother AND aunt in my head and know if I died that night without inquiring about the unsafe room, the ladies would be so mad at me, they would not give me a proper burial.
“What do you mean to see if it's safe?”
He looks at girl behind counter. Girl look at him.
He laughs. It's fake. “Nothing. I didn't mean that.”
I laugh. It's fake. “Yes, you did. You just didn't mean to SAY it.”
“Uh, nothing. Just that the other day I had to escort a woman to her room and check it out first and she was really glad I did and—never mind.” Swaps look with co-worker. “I'm going to close my mouth now.”
This should've been the point that I left, but I didn't. Because if my choices were not sleeping at all or sleeping 2 hours before getting knifed in the gut, I was okay with some blood and stitches.
Room passes the gentleman's inspection, but after I get up there, I have no idea what he was looking at. Because the room was disgusting. Window unit air conditioner leaking water all over the floor, stained everything. I will spare you other details, but let's just say I put a chair in front of the door. And my 400 lb. suitcase. But the hotel's soap made it all better. It was just what I needed.
I sleep a few hours, dreaming of ax murderers, bug spray, and Tupac. I forego the hotel's free breakfast and get back to the airport four hours early. Where I find a whole new facility. There is sun. There are stores open. There is a Chilis. Check out this food court.
And look at this.
Even saw an ad of me in my hotel room.
Clean sheets! Cushy bed! Windows without bars!
So I get on my American Airlines flight to Arkansas and we sit on the tarmac for a bit. Then the pilot starts YELLING at the baggage handler. Not as in gets up and goes and loudly speaks to him. As in sits in his pilot seat and yells out the cockpit to the guy on the ground. Cussing the guy out. And he wasn't using your Standard Issue SDH's, but words that, had I had any sleep in two days, I would've been offended. WHO DOES THIS? it's one thing to yell at a coworker. It's another to be so lazy you won't even get out of your seat to do it. The business guys sitting around me were amused, but I just kept thinking, “He really needs some of my hotel soap.”
We finally hit the skies. With much turbulence.
And I got home.
Where I had to talk to baggage claim again. To find my luggage.
“American Airlines Sucks Worse than Wedgies”
Original lyrics and score by Jenny B. Jones
“Hey, American Airlines Lady, What Did I Ever Do To You?”
Original lyrics and score by Jenny B. Jones
“Hey, American Airlines Dude, I've Had More Fun With Paper Cuts and Jalapenos.”
Original lyrics and score by Jenny B. Jones
Your real problem is that you didn’t come to Colorado to see me.
That is all.