We’re here, in Maine. We flew from San Francisco to Atlanta, and from there into Portland. I’m not a fan of flying, but if there was anything enjoyable, it was seeing the beautiful East Coast beneath us. New Jersey gives way to Long Island’s distinct shape — then Connecticut to Boston to Cape Cod. Then over Casco Bay we flew, passing little islands lush with trees just beginning their autumnal transformation, quaint New England clapboard houses nestled between… So very eastern. I loved it!
Of course, our arrival into this lovely port city was not without its bumps.
First, you must know that I loathe flying. My claustrophobia and motion sickness work together to make it a very uncomfortable experience. As I approached this trip, fear and trepidation were running their course, especially as Jameson became more and more active. I was dreading it — and that’s an understatement.
(Now, as I sat in that tin can in the sky for hours on end, it occurred to me that it is perhaps possible and even necessary for me to employ more faith in my attitude towards flying. In other words, I need to do an attitude check. I’m thinking maybe I’ll do that in the proverbial tomorrow, but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit won’t let me get away with that.)
I boarded the plane bound for Atlanta with a brave face, determined to make the best of the horrible situation I found myself in. Squeezing my way down the aisle (an awful experience in and of itself), I finally found my seat. A young woman sat in the chair beside mine, and I smiled at her in a way that I hope conveyed, “Hi. I’m in the seat next to you. I sincerely hope you have a love for children — and I apologize ahead of time for all of the times my son kicks you while he’s nursing, or grabs the zipper on your coat, or pulls your hair, or says ‘Hi!’ while you’re trying to sleep.” Fortunately, she smiled warmly, introduced herself, and played with Jameson the entire flight.
(See? I need to do an attitude check. God is much better to me than I am to Him, I’m afraid… but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, I suppose!)
Five hours later, we touched down in Atlanta. Jameson had slept for the first hour of the flight; the consecutive hours were spent entertaining him with crackers, books, rattles, peek-a-boo, and anything else I could think of. He was, of course, a fabulous baby. Fabulous. He never even cried, or tried to get off my lap, or any of the awful things I just knew were going to happen. I was, however, exhausted, and dreading the next 2.5 hour flight to Portland — but looking forward to sleeping at my mother in law’s comfy bed.
I had one hour to get to my connecting flight. I checked my gate number, then double checked, and then — because I have my father’s genes — I triple checked. Two or three times. Quickly and efficiently, but without panic or stress (because that has never garnered me success in airport situations), I found a bathroom, changed the baby, bought a drink, and got to my gate.
I quickly realized that the small print on my ticket had been taken advantage of (Gate C** [subject to change]). Yes, my gate had been changed. I got directions to my new gate. Quickly (quickly is getting faster and faster by now), I got myself and my baby and our few belongings down the elevator, found the right gate, and sat down right next to the desk. Phew!
Then I remembered that Ryan had asked me to touch base when I landed in Atlanta, so I called him. He talked to Jameson for a bit, then to me, and at some point he mentioned what time it was on the East Coast. I almost dropped the phone. My plane was supposed to leave at 8:10, and according to him, it was 8:13 — and no one anywhere was boarding a plane to Portland.
“Excuse me,” I asked the girls at the desk. “Aren’t you boarding the plane for Portland?”
Panic was creeping up the back of my neck, and I already knew — I knew — what she was going to say:
“Portland?! Goodness, no! That plane is gone! Long gone!”
Tears, yes, tears sprang to my eyes.
“But — but I never even heard my name called! I’ve been in this terminal, trying to find the right gate, and I never heard my name or anything!”
She was young, it was late, and perhaps she hasn’t taken her People Skills Training course yet — I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. But the truth is, her answer was,
“Oh, we called you. We sure did.”
Umm, first, I haven’t told you my name, I thought. Second, don’t talk to me in that tone of voice.
I said neither of those things. (Must be that attitude check was already starting.)
I called Ryan. I was crying. I was tired — exhausted, actually. I had a baby. I had two totes — one with baby toys, and one with snacks. And I was stranded somewhere I have never, ever intended to be, far, far away from anyone I knew. Yes. I was crying.
So I asked Ryan if he could be there in 5 minutes.
He said no.
Can you imagine?
I was left to fend for myself. I found the service desk, wiped my tears, and whistled a happy tune — or something like that.
The lady at the service desk had apparently aced the People Skills class, because upon hearing that I’d missed my flight, she said, “Well, you seem very calm about it all. If that happened to me when I had a baby and was all alone, well…” Then she explained that my flight from CA had run late, and there had been no way for me to make it to the connection in time. In short, it was their fault. Consequently, she booked me a ticket for the following morning, and then gave me vouchers for a hotel and a meal.
Two hours later, I was finally booked into the hotel room. It was 9:30 pm, and although my body should have been registering only 6:30, I was definitely feeling like it was midnight. However, it was not yet time for bed. I threw Jameson back in the stroller and walked down to a convenience store to purchase diapers and deodorant. I figured those were the important things. After grabbing a sub (not my favorite, but hey…), we went back to the hotel, locked the door, and went to bed.
The next morning, we were up at the crack of dawn and back at the airport. Four hours later, Casco Bay and Auntie Sarah.
And four hours after that, dinner with the whole family — Nana Dunphey and Bob, Papa and Meme, Nana, Auntie Bec, Auntie Sarah, and best of all, cousin Cam.
So, my worst nightmare while flying happened. And…
What do you know? Like Jamie always says, it’s the pessimists who are pleasantly surprised.
(Although I think that’s not the moral of the story. I’m pretty sure the attitude check is what I’m supposed to walk away with.)