Part two of the Great Exodus and my newborn dislike of all things American Airlines. We pick up right where we left off, with our heroine valiantly struggling to get herself and Moof the cat across the country. When last we saw them, she was trying to restrain herself to keep them from restraining her.
Now back to our story:
RFA and BFA glare at me and RFA take Moof’s carrier. That problem solved, I now having nothing to focus on my but my claustrophobia. My eyes dart around looking for a window. As long as I can see outside, I’m okay. All the windows have the shades pulled down but one. That one is blocked by the biggest head I’ve seen since A Charlie Brown Christmas. Still if he moves a little, I can get a glimpse outside. Doesn’t happen, so I pull out my book and hope for the best.
The flight is uneventful. Yeah, I know, hard for me to believe too. We land in Dallas and I notice on my ticket that nowhere does it say what gate I’m supposed to be at and I seek out the nearest desk person and ask, he looks it up and tells me B 48. I, being the polite Southern woman I am, say thank you and look for an exit. If I’m going to have to wait for two hours, I’m going to let Moof out and smoke and hopefully regain some of my calm. I stop in the ladies room first though and make a half-hearted effort to freshen up (an utter waste of time), then start digging in my purse for her leash.
No leash. But, being resourceful, I take out my favorite pair of sleep pants and cut out the drawstring and make one myself and then go find someone who can tell me the way out of purgatory. This of course means I’ll have to go through security again, but I don’t really care, I just want fresh air and sky and I mean to have it. It’s a five minute walk to semi-freedom and then I’m outside and digging out my phone as I sit on a stone pillar by the window. First, I call my friend Sherron and tell her to save herself, leave me til the morning, I’m sure I can find someplace to hang out. She refuses and says she’s coming for me anyway. I thank her and heaven that I have such friends on this earth.
Second call is my friend Hula, and she enjoys the story. I too will enjoy the story, at least by the end of the year, right now, I’m inhaling my cigarette and being grateful that I get another day of no jail time. I call Rook, who so selflessly did her best to get me on that airplane. Through no fault of her own and because of her diligence, I did make it to Dallas and I say it here and now,
THANK YOU ROOK and SHERRON, YOU’RE THE BEST!
It’s 7:3o and I haven’t eaten since yesterday, but the Dallas/Fort Worth airport is just as ritzy as LAX, though about ten cents cheaper. I stuff poor Moof back into the carrier and spy one of those carts that you can put stuff on and wheel it around. Now, I’ve been to DFW. It is huge, a labyrinth of unparalleled proportions and my hands are swollen and aching. Just a shout out/warning to the younger people: appreciate the young, it won’t last forever. I dig through the purse and find the $5.00 it will take to get a cart and then we’re off again.
I find AA, check in, and head to security, where Moof is a big hit again, after I take her out of the carrier. Everyone wants to pet her and by now, she’s as tired as I am, and allows it and I’m thankful that she’s being sweet. Again, I get to keep on my shoes and again they swab my hands, and test my saline and I ask one of the TSA guys where I can find something to eat. Something simple, something that I won’t have to sell Moof for medical experimentation to get. I find a little place and ask for a quesadilla, a plain one so Moof can eat too. The woman behind the counter nods, but won’t look me in the eye. This is cause for some concern, but I figure the other people I see eating haven’t keeled over, so it’s most likely safe. I get my food, stow it away and set out to find a diet coke to go with it, as well as gate B 48.
I should have known. This is Pepsi territory and not a Coke in sight. That’s okay. I have food and I have a bottle of water. It’s all good and I start walking after asking another AA worker bee which way to gate B 48. I get that look you see on people’s faces who have no idea what’s going on, but he points me further down the causeway and I see the numbers going down.
B’s got to be close, right?
I make it to the B’s through sheer strength of will and collapse in a chair, pulling out my now cold quesadilla. I open it up and take out a piece of chicken but Moof’s not having it. She has reached her tolerance level. She’s been dragged from her soft bed, shoved in a crate and dragged half way across the country and her not eating is her way of saying, “fuck you mom, I’m done.” Who can blame her? So I eat her portion and mine, and drain the water, then rest for a minute. Okay, fine, more than a minute, and then haul my body out of the chair, toddling along. I now feel like I know how anyone trying to find the promised land feels. I keep looking for a clock because I want to be sure I make this flight. And I’m going to make this flight, even if I have to take hostages.
I reach the escalator with the arrow that tells me gate B 48 is but an escalator and Skydrive ride away. I can’t find an elevator and say a sad farewell to my little cart. I will miss him and his silent assistance. I enjoy a short, swift ride on Skydrive and escape when it lurches to a halt and starting looking for signs again. I see arrows, arrows that point toward Gate B 48 and keep going. I am nothing if not persistent. I go past
There’s just one problem. When I go the lady at the desk, she grimaces. “You’re at the wrong gate, it’s down there, Gate 45, not 48.”
My grip tightens on my purse and carrier and I push out a “thank you” between my teeth and walk back down to Gate 45 where I sit next to these two teenage girls. I say again, teenage girls. It’s now 9:25. We haven’t begun boarding yet, but at long last, I’m starting to believe that I’m going to make it. The keepers of the gate aren’t wonderful, but neither are they overtly hostile, which is a plus in my opinion. We get on, and I find my seat, by the window, and I just slide Moof’s carrier in. I know it won’t fit under the seat but I’m hoping.
False hope, even though it’s false, is still hope. When the male flight attendant comes and asks me if Moof is a pet or a service animal, I, having learned my lesson on the flight to Dallas promptly answer, without blinking, “Service.” MFA leaves and returns with Amazon Flight Attendant, who gets into my personal space with “If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fly, but since it’s a service animal, you can strap her into the seat,” and turns to the gentleman next to me and says, “We’ll just move you up one seat.” He kindly moves and I switch seats and strap Moof in. You’d think that would be a good sign, yeah?
Nope. The pilot comes on the PA and starts apologizing for the delay. Delay, there’s a delay? Well, yes because the sub-contractors AA hired are apparently lazy, slothful, and downright stupid. It’s their fault we have no a/c or gas, so, the pilot says, he apologizes for them and for AA. I’m thinking, Man that ship sailed long about 7:46 when I missed my second flight to Dallas. Unless they’re going to give me free life time air miles, there will be no accepting of the apology. And even then, I’m not sure I’d accept, as this has been the longest day of my life and I’ve had some doozies. But they continue on and when all the instructions are given as to what to do in case there’s an emergency, the MFA stands at the front of the plane, feet spread apart, arms over his chest, chin down and eyes roaming the cabin. At first I assumed it was his super hero stance, then I realized, no, he’s a serial killer looking for his next victim. So, of course, I grab my notebook and start making notes for book three of my Nobles Island series. Let’s see Sawyer figure this one out.
At last we take off and I say yet another short prayer, thanking God for any and all good things that might happen and blaming the bad on karma I’m still paying off from the last couple of lives. All goes well and I can feel my shoulders start to relax as we begin our descent. The wheels hit the tarmac and my stomach flips because I swear I felt us bounce and lay a hand over Moof’s carrier. This close to the ground, hopefully the fire won’t be too bad and we’ll be able to walk away with very little damage. He hits the brakes and I’m thinking, he should have been apologizing for his poor landing techniques instead of their sub-contractors lack of a/c stuff. I can hear the tires squeal on the runway and close my eyes. I’ve made it all this way only to crash and it feels almost perfect. Yet when I open my eyes, it’s to the sound of the pilot thanking me and my fellow travelers for flying AA. I thought, how perfect are those initials.
We de-plane and when I reach the potted plant, I sit my purse and Moof down and flex my hands that are now ridiculously swollen. I can’t hear anything thanks to the up and down of cabin pressure but there’s a lady there who’s just dropped another person off and she has a wheel chair.
Oh, how I wanted to just sink into it and beg her to push me to the baggage claim. However, having some small semblance of dignity left, I instead thank her for offering it, put Moof in the seat and we take off, following the signs. I’m almost there when I spot Sherron. I want to collapse but again, I do have my pride and we meet up and head to the baggage claim together, wheelchair and all. I’m afraid that my luggage won’t be there and there will come another adventure of tracking down two suitcases at one in the morning. The two carousels spun in tandem with each other and I stood there, staring, praying, and then out pops the first suitcase. Not mine, but someone’s so I hold out hope.
More suitcases, and then I breathe a sigh of relief. My suitcase,which used to be so pretty once upon a time, came rolling out. One corner is ripped open, yet I’m thankful because my cotton granny panties aren’t showing. Then the second miracle. Suitcase number two comes out. Say what you will, I believe the power of prayer is a strong thing. We gather all the things and make for the door.
I fear if we do not make our exit swiftly and silently that the airport demons will reach out and suck us back in, where we will never be heard from again. You laugh. Ask Stephen King, he knows.
I can only thank Sherron and Mark for being there in spite of the heinous hour and pushing my brain dead body to a place to lay my head.
I might not have the best family, but I damn sure have the best friends.
P.S. I’m forwarding this to American Airlines, so if you never hear from me again, they got me.