I need a bumper sticker that says “When you can’t sleep, blog.”
It’s 6a.m. Sunday in California and there is no reason I should be awake. Up at 2:30, 4:30, 5:30 for good… so here we go. E-mail subscribers, I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post where I managed to use “hear” instead of “here,” “their” for “they’re” and “where” for “wear.” I reread that one a couple hours later and couldn’t believe it.
Sleep deprivation. I’ll try harder this time. I loved my friend who saw me comment on that on Facebook and said, “It proves you’re human. You can’t be a writing ninja all the time.”
I have the best friends.
I landed in Phoenix at 8:15p.m. Throughout the day, I’d been carrying my purse and my giant blue umbrella I’d bought on that rainy Milan day. It couldn’t fit in my backpack to be checked and I wasn’t giving it up. I got my bag and approached customs.
Customs guy: (smirk) “Uh, was it raining on the plane?”
Welcome to America.
I went down to the ticket counter to check in for my last flight. I’m officially one 54-minute flight from home and the big “I survived backpacking” moment.
Self service ticket machine: “There are no seats available for assignment. Please see an attendant.”
Me: “Um, excuse me, what does it mean if my boarding pass says there are no seats available?”
Airline lady: “Oh that means there are no seats available.”
Me: “Yeah, I got that much. What I meant was, are they all taken? Or do I just need a seat assignment upstairs.”
Airline lady: “Well, your flight leaves at 9:15, so they’ll start working your flight around 8:15, in about an hour. So at that time, you’ll have to approach the desk and you should have no issue.”
Me: “It’s 8:32.”
Airline lady: “It is? Oh well then you’re late. We recommend that you arrive for flights two hours early.”
Cue me stomping feet, already twenty hours into airport day. Don’t turn this on me, lady.
I race upstairs and at my gate hear “Due to weather in Southern California and weight restrictions put on the plane, we have had to unseat people. If you hear your name, do not approach the desk. You have been unseated, we will add you in the same order we called you if the pilot can allow more seats.”
Thirty names get read. Not mine.
“Uh… hi… I don’t have a seat… I’m not on the list of people kicked off from seats to get a seat.”
“No, you’re on the list.”
“But… she… didn’t say my name.”
“You’re on the list.”
Okay. I look around at the thirty unseated people and it’s 80% angry inconvenienced businessmen. Just the prior day, I’d written here minor inconveniences don’t feel like inconveniences, I can handle it – Oh, I really wanted to get home that night. The next flights wouldn’t be until the next morning. The airline would be putting everyone up in hotels and we’d get $150 vouchers – which I’d actually have volunteered for if I ever flew this airline on a regular basis. My allegiance lies with another.
And then a moment stuns me.
Bleach-blonde business dude: “How do you decide who gets on the plane?”
Airline guy: “We will go by the order you checked in.”
Bleach-blonde business dude: “Well, what if you have a better reason to get back.”
Airline guy: “We can’t look at it that way. Then you get in the business of ranking mothers over elderly people and it’s really not our place to decide who deserves it more.”
Bleach-blonde business dude: “Well, I think if you own a business, it’s a little different.”
The crowd is silent and I’m disgusted. I turned around to a guy my age behind me and laughed. “This guy’s kinda a dick, huh.”
My-age-guy and I start talking about our travel days, which leads to talk about my trip. He’s really nice and we’re both in the mindset of “what are you gonna do… We’ll get home sometime.” That said, it’s officially been explained to us that “A storm came through in California and now the runway is ‘too wet’ for our heavy plane to land on.”
I fully understand that science, not being a wuss, led to the pilot’s conclusion. I get it, I wasn’t complaining…
But as a Syracuse grad (2010-2011 3rd worst winter ever, April 2011 rainest April ever)… The runway is too wet? Are you freaking kidding me? And as I jokingly say that to my-age guy, an old gruff serious-faced man turns around and looks at me. “They’re doing it for safety. The plane could skid off the runway. Do you want to be on a plane that skids off the runway?”
What kind of question is that?
It’s official. No one else is getting on the plane. We are to line up in three lines and get processed for hotels, new flights and vouchers. I’ve called Mom, who has been sending my sister texts that go like this:
Janae isn’t getting home tonight.
Plane was too heavy.
They kicked her off.
Another angry business man snaps at airline people. “I don’t have time for this. I’m renting a car.”
He leaves, and I say, “Ooh! I want to ride home with him!”
Heads snap toward me in shock.
“No… no, I don’t really. I wouldn’t seriously get in the car with that guy.”
Females all around: “No, no, don’t get in a car with that man, dear.”
Three minutes pass. My backpack is making it on the plane. I’m on the phone with my mom. “Uh… I have my purse… and an umbrella!”
And then I hear my last name, with a question mark attached. I look up. THAT’S ME! I’m getting on the plane! Opposite of this.
The plane took off forty minute later, an hour late overall. I don’t care. I’m on the plane… and I’m home! Waiting in line to get off, a group behind me talked about how long their travel days were and how hard their lives were in general. This hour-delay has really been rough.
I’m not one to brag, but…
Man: “I came all the way New York today. Yeah, it’s been long.”
Lady: “Yeah, Boston.”
Man: “North Carolina. Ugh.”
I turned my head back. “Barcelona.”
Silence. And off the plane I walked.