Monday, May 18, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane...or trying to anyway

I spent yesterday in the airport. Three of them actually. Sounds like fun doesn't it? Not. I'm in the lovely state of South Carolina for a few days helping my daughters get settled into new apartments. Actually South Carolina looks remarkably like England and gray so I'm feeling right at home. Plus I'm staying with my sister who is the sweetest and so I'd be feeling right at home even if it were sunny and hot. Which I kind of wish it was. I'm jet lagged so there's no telling where this post will go. Consider yourself warned. The estate agent in the UK (that would be the realty company) phoned me at 4:40 am to ask a question. Of course she didn't know I was in the states and she felt awful when it dawned on her what time it was but even after she realized the time difference she asked if it was convenient to talk. Uh, no, not really. Still once I'm awake I'm awake so today is starting early.

And I really could have used the sleep because yesterday was T-RY-ING. I left my house at 8:30 am UK time for my flight out of Heathrow. I was on a jumbo jet and I'm pretty sure there's another word for them these days but jumbo works too. I spent the flight feeling kinda sorry for the man squeezed into the center seat beside me (I must be on an aisle and just fyi, according to my husband and my children, I have a lot of rules when I fly). This gentleman looked like he may have wrestled for the WWF except he was Belgian and I don't think they have the WWF there do they? Anyway, he definitely lifts weights and he definitely looked super uncomfortable. And I felt a little sorry for myself too because he hogged the arm rest and covered the control buttons to my video screen which was a tiny problem.

I fly to Dulles in Washington DC where I make a connection to another airline for the one hour-ish flight to South Carolina. I have to collect my bag and recheck it which isn't too difficult except I was traveling without my cabana boy (that's an affectionate term for my husband who carries all the stuff when we travel) so I had to schlep it all myself. And my carry on might have weighed more than me. I was bringing some of our important personal papers with me to leave in a box at my sisters since we don't want to put anything with banking numbers in our moving shipment and after six years overseas we have alot of papers to tote. Plus in cleaning out the odds and ends left in my girls rooms in the UK I found about $60,000 US dollars in coins in daughter2's room. Okay, it was more like $60 but when you're carrying that weight in coins it feels like thousands and it's heavy. And apparently it also sends up some sort of red flag to the security agents in Dulles because my bag had to be searched, run thru the machine again, bagged coins taken out of my case and run thru again, bagged coins removed from bag and sifted thru and layed flat in the container and run thru yet again. But I didn't mind too much because I was busy getting know, belt, shoes, jewelry...

And Dulles is where the fun began. My flight was supposed to leave at 5ish and get to SC just after 6 ish. And of course 5 ish is feeling like 10 ish to me. At about 4:50 the passengers hovering in the waiting area all started commenting on the fact that there were four flights scheduled to leave out of this same gate at the exact same time. Now, I'm no mathematician but even I knew that was never gonna happen. So I was naively happy when they announced that the flight to SC should move to another gate. Til we got to the gate and saw the new flight departure time was now listed as 6 pm. Okay, an hour delay...not great but what can you do so you make the best of it. Then it was changed to 6:30 followed by an announcement saying there was a 'mechanical problem' with the plane and the mechanic was going to have to get on board. TMI TMI TMI.... please just fix the problem and don't tell me there is a 'mechanical problem'. Does mechanical problem mean there's a broken windshield wiper or does mechanical problem mean the engine may drop out of the plane at 35, 000 feet. Don't want to know thank you very much.

This game of delaying our departure time in 15 and then 30 minute and then 60 minute increments went on for a while. And at one point the mechanic (whose pants were hanging way too low ala Eminen) did not inspire confidence as he passed the roomful of waiting passengers while uttering the phrase, and I quote, 'dat plane's broke' Broke! Are you kidding me? First of all the word is broken and poor grammar is a pet peeve of mine. Secondly, I think I've already mentioned, TMI TMI TMI.

Minutes pass, or maybe days, and then we are treated to another announcement which says the mechanic must return to the hanger for a part. And the gate agent helpfully explained to the lady sitting beside me (whose kinda like my new best friend because we've had alot of time to share) that something called the air sensors are not working and that means the plane may fly too high or too low. Huh? Too low as in into the ground? too high as in we may careen off into the stratosphere?

And about this time I phone my husband in the UK who informs me he is at our good friends house enjoying a very delicious Sunday roast dinner. And I tell him I'm also enjoying my 6 strawberry twizzlers and a diet coke which is absolutely nothing like an English Sunday roast dinner but is still delicious in its own way. Twizzlers make me happy. Except I'm eating them during hour number 5 in Dulles airport in Washington DC when I'm supposed to be looking at my girlies smiling faces in South Carolina.

More days pass and we're treated to more announcements and coincidentally it turns out the flight in the area just opposite ours is also delayed because, 'the plane is also broken'. At least she didn't say broke but she did add, 'this just goes from bad to worse' which is not exactly the phrase you want to hear when you are preparing to board an aircraft. Our new announcement is hopeful though...we're getting a new plane and they've got a pilot who has arrived to fly it so we're almost in business.

I walked a little way down the terminal to get a hamburger because I've now spoken to my sister/daughter1/daughter2/husband about 27 times and I've concluded I will not be in South Carolina for dinner anytime soon and I should let that idea go for now. And as I'm standing in line for my hamburger I get a look at the pilot and apparently Doogie Howser is no longer practicing medicine but is now flying commuter planes. Seriously, this little boy is going to fly the plane??

And finally, a mere 6 hours late, we're on our way to South Carolina and when the flight attendant actually announced in all seriousness that 'you may have noticed the slight delay in our departure and we do apologize for any inconvenience' me and my new best friend (who turns out was seated next to me on the flight) had to laugh.

And it is now 11:30 PM (or 4:30 am depending which country you are in) and I didn't even mind (much) that I had to wait 45 minutes for my bag because daughter2 was standing next to me chattering a mile a minute and daughter1 was waiting with the car and I love these girls and there is no amount of aggravation or frustration or annoying airport announcements that their sweet faces cannot erase the moment their eyes meet mine and smiles break out all around. In that moment all is right with the world.


  1. What a funny story. You have quite the sense of humor. Yes, I'm most certain that those beautiful girls of yours can make any amount of aggravation well worth it.

    Have fun with them.

  2. I am sorry you had such a long wait, but what a reward at the other end! My daughter was here for a very short visit this past week and as she was climbing into her car to leave for the airport she informed me that during her flight in, the door of the plane opened. YIKES!!! I hate flying anyway, but this certainly doesn't help. ;~)

  3. Glad you made it to see your sweet girls!!! I know you will have a wonderful visit. Sorry you had so much trouble getting out of DC. We had a similar story from there many years ago. We sat out on the runway for almost 3 hours in July trying to get out. Thunderstorms!!! It got a bit stuffy in that plane, to say the least. I am not claustrophobic, but I was beginning to wonder after 3 hours sitting in a plane. Have a great time with your girls!!! Love & blessings from NC!

  4. What an ordeal you went through to get to your girls! At least as bad as Charlie's attempt to get home earlier this month.

    Welcome down South! Enjoy your stay here. I hope you get rested and acclimated. Of course, then you'll just have to go back, right?

  5. Wholly smokes! So sorry you had such an aggravating trip! Traveling isn't as fun and romantic as it used to be, is it? It's enough to make one just stay put, with all the airport, hotel, automobile weirdness in our world these days.

    Oh, but reuniting with family is all that much sweeter when it's all said and done, right?

  6. Goodness, Joyce! I was reading this wondering if you were ever going to see your girls. :)
    You gals enjoy your time together.

  7. Oh makes me remember my flight from Oklahoma to Oregon and from there across over to Goose bay Labrador and then on to Japan and then to Taiwan..... OH my gosh...... I was wore out!

    Thanks for sharing..

  8. OH my goodness! Makes me never want to fly again! I love "flying" but just the whole ton of people in one little space all breathing the same air just kinda does me in. I like my MOTORHOME!!! ;)
    Good girl for surviving the trip and getting to see your girls. It was all worth it in the end.
    Yup, they do grow up fast! My youngest will be 21 in Dec and that one is REALLY going to hit home!
    Have a great day! Karen

  9. I just "love" (sarcasm) those areas of airports that I affectionately call the bus terminal. Seems there are always fifty gillion flights leaving out of one gate within about 10 minutes of each other.