I’m writing this with one hand because I have an overwrought and almost sleeping baby on one arm.
I don’t even know where to begin…
Shall I begin with the THREE DAYS it took me to pack between feedings and diaper blowouts? Or how about the time I spent rearranging things and figuring out if I really needed everything that I JUST KNEW I ABSOLUTELY FREAKING HAD TO HAVE, or the three hours today that I had someone sit with her so she wouldn’t scream while I finished stuffing odds and ends into the suitcases, and cleaning up?
Then, I went out to lunch with my parents and my brother and we drove in two cars (yes, two) to the airport and I needed every set of hands to help me in the door with her and my mountain of crap. After that, we had a somewhat tearful goodbye and they left me maneuvering a smaller crap mountain through security as harried passengers pretended they didn’t see me and walked around me.
I got to my gate and realized there was a problem when the flight was not on the board. Oh, but it was just delayed, they said. Soon, it was a little more delayed. Meanwhile, I was emailing my husband telling him to watch my flight status because I had a “funny feeling” that things were not going well. Thirty seconds later it was canceled. I kid you not. I knew before the United employees even got the phone call.
When it came through, they began to hand out yellow cards with the Air Canada reservation number. I walked up to the counter and asked politely if it was really canceled and if there wasn’t something they could do to help me–a rather smallish person, with a baby and a crap mountain.
No, there was nothing she could do. She said she couldn’t see my reservation and I had to call the number. Her voice indicated that I was annoying her.
I gestured to my phone, “I don’t get service on this here.” I was getting desperate. I had a family who thought I had left and a husband waiting for me in South America. (However, if you must ask, I think he’s more excited to see Squeaker.)
“Ma’am,” she said in what must have been her best ‘bitch, please’ voice, “you can dial this number from any pay phone.” (FYI: pay phone banks are hard to come by these days at MSP, Air Canada/United.)
“I understand, but I’m alone with a BABY. I need to call someone to come and pick me up.”
“Hmph. If it’s only a local call, you can use our phone.” With a glare, she handed it to me.
No one answered. Why does that always happen? Why does that especially happen when you don’t have a phone and have thirty people watching you or waiting for your spot in line?
Finally, I reached my brother who was at his tutoring job. As soon as I got him on the phone, I started crying. It was embarrassing and probably just what the legions of other irritated passengers who had been staring at me and my phone-less state expected me to do. He agreed to come pick us up. As I was making my way to the baggage claim, a man tapped me on the shoulder.
“Did you get the help you needed?”
“No,” I sniffed.
“Use my phone.”
He let me use his phone for almost thirty minutes as I waited for my brother. While I was on hold, he tried to give me the ‘you can do it’ pep talk. A lot of people had that to say, actually. “I remember traveling with my first!” or “I understand–I had three.”
It was useless calling Air Canada since so many other passengers were doing the same. According to the United employees some sort of apocalyptic computer problem had struck their fleet. Or maybe it was the weather. You know. We don’t really care, we’re United. Here take a card with the reservation number and go find a damn pay phone, already.
Remember how I said I needed two cars to get us to the airport? Getting back with one was almost impossible. In the end, I had a folded stroller and a carry-on on my lap. Two suitcases where in the front and two were in the trunk. It was a clown car with suitcases and fewer elbows.
Now, I get to do it all over again tomorrow. Please send me good travel vibes. Ever since I got sick in Chicago, I wonder if I’ve angered the travel gods.
In a way, this is a good thing. I can repack, so I have less things in my hands. I also got my high school records that I needed to get my Chilean driver’s license, if I decide to do that. My dad waved it in front of my face like a karmic peace offering. So, no, I’m not 30,000 feet above the Americas right now, but it could be worse.