Never Leaving Home Again, Part II

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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.
And sit.
And 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It's open and everything.

And look at this.

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Even saw an ad of me in my hotel room.

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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.

The End.

Music:
“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


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 32 comments
Danica - July 20, 2011

Your real problem is that you didn’t come to Colorado to see me.

That is all.

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Ruth - July 20, 2011

Oh my gosh, Jenny, this is EPIC! I had to spend the night in the Denver airport once thanks to a blizzard in April (it was, I swear, 95 degrees the day before), but my experience was NOTHING compared to yours!

Glad you made it home safely. Now to work this scenario into a book (I’m thinking it could be therapeutic??). 😉

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Nicole O'Dell - July 20, 2011

LOL @ “he needs my hotel soap”

So sorry you went through all of that!

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Katers - July 20, 2011

Oh dear. That… was a nightmare! That’s the kind of stuff that people usually write about and never happens to anyone.. but, in this case, it did happen. Yuck. I’m sure you won’t be flying anywhere soon.

I have been in the type of motel you’ve described. The website made it sound like it was heavenly and new.. I should have known better (on the out-skirts of Baltimore?…). When I went to the front desk, it was actually IN CASED and had one of those windows like the impound. I should have just got back in my car at that point.. because my room was even worse. The hallway was dimly lit and I felt like the spooky twins from a horror movie were going to come around the corner at any moment. My air conditioner also leaked.. and the wallpaper was pealing off (at least, I tell myself it was pealing) and I felt like I had stepped back into 1987. I was afraid of catching something from the bed that night as I slept (and also that I was going to be awaken by screaming at any moment). I was never happier to see sunlight that morning.

I also have been to the middle-of-no-where convenience station (minus gas) to use the bathroom. To this day, I think I would have been safer to go into the forest. The bathroom was at the end of store where there was a sub shop. The door into the “restroom” also had two other doors inside. I’ve never really been spiritual while on the toilet.. but that day, I was never happier to having a quick chat with God.

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Jason Joyner - July 20, 2011

It sounds like American Airlines is up to their usual level of customer service. My wife and I flew to Nashville over Memorial Weekend for a well-deserved break from our kids. We got stuck in Dallas overnight on the way there, and got delayed all day on the way back, having to switch to Delta to actually make it home. And Delta has games on their seat backs…

For next time (even though you’re never leaving home again), can I share my tips for a layover?

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Jenny - July 20, 2011

Oh my. That is really all I can think of to say. While I love to fly and can’t (thankfully) relate to your experiences, I am a tad wee bit very extremely anal about where I lay my head for the night. Well, ok, it is always on my pillow, because I take it with me whenever I am going to a hotel. Or at the very least my own pillow case…I think I have said enough. Maybe too much.

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Jenny B Jones - July 20, 2011

Jenny, I travel with my pillow as well. Never leave home without it.

Jason, great tips. Had I started a flash mob in Miami, though,I’m afraid there probably would’ve been guns and knives involved.

Katers, I had the SAME thoughts of this hotel and the hallways–total The Shining. It was very weird, quiet, isolated.

Danica, I tried to reroute to Colorado. I said, “Get me to DAnica’s house.” But they couldn’t do it.

Ruth, I can’t imagine spending the night in an airport, but I know it’s just a matter of “when” and not “if.” It will happen at some point. . .

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Kate Fugate - July 20, 2011

Oh my word. What craziness! My most favorite line (after the “crabby old lady who just got off her Lemon Sucking Break” — ha!) was “I give her my Teacher Stare No. 5, reserved for boys who throw gang signs and girls who forget bras.”

I could see it like a movie in my mind.

And this, for future reference, is why you avoid O’Hare, even if it means you have to fly over your intended destination and spend a few hours in glorious Cleveland (mid-winter, mind you) before you can land in Indiana. Nothing that involves O’Hare ends well. Case(s) in point:

My final O’Hare experience involved tornado sirens and hours of sitting with my hands clasped around my head huddled against a wall (why are airports made of all glass?)while a large man cried next to me. Said large man was a gang-banger taking a break to fly his little bro’s body back to his grandmother’s for burial. True to my Lord, I prayed for him that night. I prayed for us ALL that night.

My family’s last O’Hare experience was after my wedding, when my 1.5 year-old niece decided to dump the wedding bubbles in her own face while my brother-in-law changed her diaper in the men’s restroom, resulting in much screaming and crying and vomiting. At which point a concerned citizen called the cops from a bathroom stall, which meant my brother-in-law (in his attempt to quickly exit the bathroom with the shrieking vomiting Hannah over his shoulder to find my sister and perhaps a fresh change of clothes) ran into an impenetrable wall of Chicago’s finest, who would not let him pass without proof that the squirming child covered in bodily fluids was actually his own. I’m surprised he didn’t just hand her over right then and there. Since that story, I’ve never begrudged a parent with a crying infant on a plane — you never know what happened in the men’s restroom.

All that to say maybe we should all stay home!

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Liv - July 20, 2011

I was seriously laughing so hard I cried while I read this. My dad came in to do something, and I think he thought I was insane….:-) Thanks for making my day!!!

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ashley - July 20, 2011

i am exhausted and pissed off just reading this. I would’ve kicked the hotel peeps in the teeth!

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Suzanne Schaffer - July 20, 2011

So sorry your Comfort Inn & Suites was so stinky. We have a brand new one in my town and it’s lovely. Had my daughter’s 14th birthday sleepover party there.

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Sarah - July 20, 2011

Omigosh all I could think while reading this is “oh dear lord, she has to make a mini horror movie outta this.” With ur songs & everything!
The whole soap thing had me laughing as I was reading, & laughing my mom goes, “why have you been laughing at your phone every two seconds?” Lol

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Erin - July 21, 2011

You realize, don’t you, that God put you through this purely so that we could all be really stinkin’ entertained reading your account of it? Oh, how He loves us… 🙂

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christa - July 21, 2011

There’s a novel here waiting to happen. I’m just saying.

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Amy - July 21, 2011

LOL. And I am laughing out loud–in the middle of Panera–some guy with an Asiago Bagel and a coffee just looked at me. But the cute guy on the lap top a couple of seats over did NOT look at me. Yes, Jenny, I can type a blog post comment and try to hit on tech savvy guys at the same time. I love your re-telling of your horrific experience. If it had happened to me, I probably would have exploded into tears some times, slapped a few faces, and, uh, I dunno, but bad, bad things would’ve happened. BAD THINGS!!! Fortunately, you’re cool under pressure and you had the calming soap, so you were good. Love ya, girl, and glad you’re home. I think Miller missed you, too.

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bookwyrm14 - July 21, 2011

I couldn’t stop laughing.

‘Nuff said. 🙂

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Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect - July 21, 2011

Oh my goodness. What a terrible, ridiculous trip! (Although, like your other loving readers, I’m a tiny bit thankful because it has provided oh-so-much entertainment for us!) Seriously. That is just…wow.

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Clare - July 21, 2011

This is horribly tragic,but quite hilarious. I haven’t traveled by plane since I was like, three, but after all of this, I feel like I might never want to again.
“oh, wow, good thing we just dodged that mountain…” Best line ever. 🙂 And with all of your intense teacher stares,I definitely would not want to get on your bad side in the class room. :)Glad your home safe!

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Joy - July 21, 2011

Awesome! I am so sorry! But it made me laugh after a hard day. Thank you! And I am so glad I have never flown with AA!! And now I never will!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

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Julie Arduini - July 21, 2011

If having tears after reading these two posts are wrong, I don’t want to be right. 🙂

Glad you are home safe. My step son works at the O’Hare Marriott. I so wish you could have stayed there, none of this if it’s safe business.

When do you travel again? Please take notes for us. I’m with Christa, this trip sounds like a novel begging to be written. You could go from YA to senior citizen lit and make lemon sucking lady your heroine. 🙂

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Jenny B Jones - July 21, 2011

Julie, do you have any idea how much cash, credit cards, and plasma I would’ve forked over to know the O’Hare Marriott was a safe, clean place? Good to know for future reference though.

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Lynette - July 21, 2011

Jenny! You make me laugh til I pee. It was great to run into you tonight. I kept saying you were from Oklahoma, though. Sorry about that. ARKANSAS! I got it now. Hope you have an awesome conference and a much less hectic flight home!

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Carla - July 21, 2011

We read reviews for a hotel beforit was condemned. It was hilarious. One said when they folded back the sheets to go to bed, change fell out. You so need to post a review. Great retelling! We learned the hard way too, NEVER fly through Ohara! Glad you made it home safe and ready to be there!

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PatriciaW - July 22, 2011

And I thought the Miami portion of the trip was the worst of it! More frightening is that I’m acquainted with nearly all that you described, except the pilot yelling out the cockpit. Air travel in America is the pits. It might be worse in other places, but that doesn’t stop it from being the pits right here at home.

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Heather - July 22, 2011

I’ve stayed at the Conway, AR Country Inn and Suites twice this year….by my own choosing. Loved it and it wasn’t a bit scary! However, the one in Amarillo, TX…..,EEK! The sister location of the one you were in!

I do so appreciate you retelling your story in such a humorous way.

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Virginia Rush - July 22, 2011

I thought Part 1 was hilarious…Part 2 is a nightmare…you actually slept in the hotel from hell?
I’m sorry I would have beat it back to the airport and said give me another room please…jail cell….just make sure it is clean and Safe….. next time try another airlines!!!!!!! and I loved the blue dress you wore for the ad for the hotel….they should pay you for that ad!!! you really shoulda taken a picture in front of the ad …of you. you know if you just travel airlines and airports…I promise you’ll have a best seller…you go girl!!!!!!!!!

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Allie Smith - July 22, 2011

that post…is just so…hilarious.seriously,does that even really happen to people?wow my family has been lookin at me like im crazy cuz im laughin so hard.oh jenny b jones…i dont even know what to say.thats just…funny.

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Allie Smith - July 22, 2011

how do u get a pic w/ ur comment?

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Robin Stevens - July 22, 2011

I’ve decided the little MIA sticker they attach to your luggage when you fly through Miami International really stands for Missing in Action. Eight of us came through there after a mission trip to Peru – similar stories of waiting in airports followed by much running to catch connecting flights after traveling out of security to go through customs AND agricultural checkpoints and back through security to re-check luggage…. There’s a horrible, twisting feeling you get in your gut as you watch everyone else on your flight claim their luggage at your final destination, and you notice no one in your entire group of eight has claimed a single bag. No on was spreading the love of Jesus at that particular moment.

Thanks for sharing with a great – and somewhat twisted -sense of humor! You make me laugh out loud.

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Stephanie - July 23, 2011

Jenny, you crack me up so much. After reading your Katie Parker series over my vacation, it ruined the other reading material I brought along….=)

As Christa said, such excellent fodder for future writing. I’m so glad you are home and loving your own mattress that much more!

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Erin McFarland - July 25, 2011

oh man i’m exhausted. reading this made me exhausted. i can only imagine how you felt actually living it ;/ And i agree with the other Erin above that commented tee hee 🙂

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capillya - July 31, 2011

OMG I NEVER WANT TO GO TO CHICAGO, EVER. Kidding. Sort of. Maybe.

I shouldn’t be reading blog posts like this when I should be sleeping but instead I’m up at midnight and snorting and laughing like a crazy. I hear ya on the “it doesn’t take much to be positive, does it?” part. I think there’s something about the hundreds of thousands of itineraries and schedules and cancellations and complaining that goes on in airports that makes them such UNHAPPY places. I can’t speak much for AA, but I completely missed a plane due to a Delta fiasco in Atlanta, (aka The Unhappiest Airport in the Entire Universe) and refuse to ever, EVER fly them EVER again.

EVER.

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