Tuesday, January 16, 2007

black & white

i expect travel to be a yin yang sort of experience; your outbound journey is delays and lost baggage, therefore the inbound will be all puppies and flowers and nice things. there appears to be some inequality in the distribution of puppies and lost luggage. there were a lot of tears, and these are not the ones squeezed out by the 3 year old seated across the aisle from me for a total of 2 out of the 8 hours of air time. i have worked with emotionally disturbed children who have demonstrated traffic stopping tantrums, and i have a brother, my patience threshold is generally set to high. however, i was ready to inflict GBH, but not on the child, her mother sat there while "little miss" screeched and pounded her feet against the seat of the poor guy in front. no redirection, warning, or apology. this was not a "planned ignoring for negative behaviour" strategy on the mother's part, she simply didn't care.

upon disembarking the aircraft we were told which carousel our luggage would be coming through on, and that some passengers had messages, so check the wall after leaving the jetbridge; i was rather shocked to see my name taped to the wall. my message was not of the "happy new year/welcome to the united states" variety, but the "one of two of your pieces of luggage is still in london and will be coming later where you can pick it up in san diego" variety.

immigration was a breeze, this is historically a challenging rite of my airport passage; i am convinced there is a laboratory somewhere in the deserts of new mexico where INS officers are being cross bred with C3P0 and pitbulls. after standing at carousel #4, a well dressed, acne faced young man sporting a 'jesus christ of the latter day saints" badge asked if this was the madrid flight. oops.

carousel #2: my window of time between connections was piddling away, fortunately for me the one bag that finally arrived was the small one full of all my ESL teaching books and dirty clothing.

"youre ticket was cancelled october 2nd". (?!) anxiety was already set to high because my brother had checked my flight and it was overbooked by 10%, he told me if i didnt secure a boarding pass with a seat number asap then i would be experiencing deja vu going to san diego that i had leaving it the previous week. the AA rep began the manic keyboard clicking and told me she couldnt get me out today or tomorrow. this statement was like rubbing raw onion over my corneas. 10 minutes of quiet weeping and visions of 2 days at o'hare in the same pair of knickers with my one bag of esl books and dirty laundry (actually visions of cashing in my AA voucher from the last flying cock up to go down to louisville) and she admitted there had been a mistake. she presented me with a boarding pass with an assigned seat #. boarding commenced at 3:30, just a short monorail ride away in terminal 3. it was 3:30; on your marks, get set, hello lactic acid. wasted lactic acid; the flight was delayed until 5:15.

the balance was reset, my seat buddy was a restless soul, with a soul patch, vans and a shared passion for bill bryson books and fear of turbulence. fortunately, there was none, and no kicking or screaming either.

it is worth putting up with the tears and frustration inherent in any situation or journey; while delaying gratification can feel endless and full of "turbulence" and "screaming children", the air eventualy settles and the familiar returns.

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