Friday, January 11, 2008
Adventures in Airport Mania
This post isn't really writing related, except that it gave me great ideas for character torture in a book. Though as always, any details from my life would have to go into a chick-lit novel! For example:
My parents have been in Disneyworld the last 8 days. Yes, I was jealous, but that's not the point. My sister and I volunteered to pick them up at the airport last night. Their flight was due in by 7:45-ish. No problem! We planned to grab a bite to eat and then head up to the airport by 7:30. We thought after all the drama my parents had just getting TO Disneyworld (think cancelled flights, extended layovers, and barely-made reservations!) that surely this return flight would be easy-squeezy.
No such luck. They got delayed three times and their arrival estimate changed to 9:30. Okay, fine. We're adaptable. So instead of fast food, we went to a sit-down restaurant, which was actually quite the adventure in itself, since our city had water issues yesterday and was under a boil advisory (no drinking or cooking with tap water without boiling it for 3 minutes first!) You can imagine how that would affect the restaurant industry! No ice machines, no water, no rinsing salads, etc. Several places closed in order to avoid the hassle, but Applebees remained open. We sit down at a booth and the waitress comes up to us. With a straight face, she asks, "Water or beer?"
I burst out laughing. "Are we in Ireland?"
We ordered water (bottled water the manager had bought from Walmart, along with bagged ice) and proceeded with our meal. (which actually turned out to be free because my sister knew the manager and he's a very nice guy. Thanks Ryan!)
We had plenty of time to kill after dinner, so we went shoe shopping (what else would two sisters do, one of whom is pregnant and has sore feet? lol) and then to my house for a moment for caffeine (no lectures on being pregnant and having caffeine, please! I'm fully aware of my limitations and am acting accordingly! Thanks! ) before heading to the airport. We had to take two cars, since my parents had quite the amount of luggage on hand.
Having never flown, I'm not exactly familar with our local airport. I've been multiple times, but not lately, and never driving by myself, so I was confused as to the maze of parking options and such. That's why I decided to follow my sister. We went past security (who had to look in our trunks - and what, I ask, do they expect me to try to sneak into an airport in my trunk??? An immigrent? A bazooka? And IF I had such an urge to do so, would I really put an immigrent or bazooka in my trunk for anyone to find so easily!?!?) and into the curb-side parking by the front doors. Then we realized if we stayed there we couldn't leave our cars, and we'd prefer going inside to wait so we could greet my parents at the terminal and have a more interesting atmosphere while trying to kill 20+ minutes. So I followed my sister out of the space and through the maze of parking options into the long-term parking lot. I raised my eyebrows but kept going. Long term? Weren't we only going to be there for maybe half an hour? But Sissy is the expect, not me, so on we drive. Then she stops and motions for me to pull up beside her and roll down my window. "Oops. I meant to go in the other lot." Wouldn't have been a big deal if we hadn't had just pulled a time-stamped ticket we'd have to pay when we left! So we decided to exit the airport and go right back in and explain to the nice security guard how blonde we are, and see if they'd excuse the ticket and let us try again. Heading there, though, my sister found a way into the short term lot and manuevered us in. Finally! We hike the parking lot into the airport, up the escalators, and to the terminal, where several people are already waiting to greet their loved ones - a young man in a military uniform, three gentleman in a group (one in a nice suit, one in jeans and a polo, and one in a T-shirt tucked into his windpants) and a woman sitting alone with really cute boots, listening to an IPod.
9:10. Okay, good. 20 minutes, and we'd be out of there.
We hustle to the mounted monitors that tell which flights are arriving at which time, and scan the rows for my parents Delta flight from Atlanta. Nothing. No Delta, no Atlanta, anywhere. We head to the other monitor on the other side of the terminal, which is the exact same info. We stand and stare, even though the info isn't changing. I say "Maybe its a touch screen..." (it wasn't.)
We sit back down, much to the amusement of the 3 gentlemen across from us, and pretend we know what we're doing. Then my sister looks down and sees a credit card at her feet. A debit card for Paige Shultz. "Uh oh!" She picks it up. "Someone is going to be missing this." I point to the older man sitting by the terminal gate, wearing a bright orange security vest. "Give it to him." She hands the card to me with a sheepish I don't want to smile. Fine. I take the card and start marching toward the guard. He sees me coming, and no joke, without a smile or a flicker of an eyebrow or ANY warning whatsoever, he jumps up from his chair (pretty quickly for such an old man, by the way) and holds out both hands in front of him, yelling "WHOA THERE, little lady!"
I stop, wondering who the little lady is (certainly not me! pregnant and feeling a little large!) and then wonder why he's talking like John Wayne. I looked behind me. No one but my sister with wide eyes several yards away, and no sign of a horse named Duke or Trigger. I turn back around and hold up the credit card like a peace offering. "We found this, someone left it." He approaches me with all the caution of a hunter stalking a bear and snatches it from my hand. "Okay, I'll see what I can do." He wanders back toward the apparently forbidden section of the terminal (which, really, if its so forbidden for me to step through, should have some sort of visible indicator!) and I go back to my sister, beet red and a little aggravated that he was so rude.
"What did he think I was going to do? Storm the empty terminal with a stolen credit card?" I huff. My sister laughs - no wonder she hadn't wanted to take the card. We check the monitors again. Nothing has changed - still no Delta, no Atlanta, and yes, the trio of men are still laughing at us about the credit card incident. A minute later, an announcement starts on the loudspeaker. We hold our breath, hoping it won't say "Attention please. All Delta flights no longer exist. Have a nice day." (it didn't.)
A few moments later, another announcement begins. "Paige Shultz, please report to the security desk immediately. Paige Shultz, Paige Shultz. Please report to the security desk."
I jump up. "That's her! That's the lady on the credit card!" I'm so excited, thinking woman and plastic are about to be reunited at last.
My sister tugs me back down on the chair. "You dork. The security guard is the one who called it in."
"Oh, yeah." (hey, I'm pregnant. leave me alone. My brain is shrinking)
I glance at the lady with the IPod, oblivious to her surroundings. "Hope that's not Paige."
9:29. We sit and wait, and by now the trio of men are almost giggling at us. We must make quite the show. I notice the military-dressed guy sitting behind us has gotten up to check the monitors again. I ask him if he saw anything by Delta. He had not, but he checked again. (awww!) No Delta. No Atlanta. The plot thickens.
9:30. The security guard in the silly vest shuts and locks the terminal gate!! Then leaves!! We panic, now truly wondering if the plane actually exists. I consider texting my mother and asking her to test the armrest with her finger to make sure her hand didn't slip all the way through the non-tangible material. Then I remember her cell is off, so if the plane doesn't exist, we can't know regardless.
9:35. We're desperate for entertainment. The real Paige Shultz never stood up. Poor woman will be frantic about her card! I say a prayer for her.
9:40. Still no change on the monitors. By now, we're bored and gossiping. "Think that guy in the suit is important?" My sister wonders. I give a critical stare and shake my head. "No, just wants to be. And the guy in the windpants will never be if he doesn't untuck that T-shirt."
9:43. I wonder if the airport chairs would turn into a suitable bed if we're stuck waiting all night for the plane that doesn't exist. (they didn't.)
9:45. The meanie guard returns and raises the gate. A man steps through the terminal. We stand up. Passengers? Our hope flares. Two more people cross through. We join the military guy by the potted fern where we can see better down the terminal. People! Yes! A whole herd! We jump up and down. (yes, literally) There is hope after all. The flight existed, and better yet, it even landed. Our parents round the corner with Disney bags in hand and we wave and beam. They wave and beam. Life is good. Unfortunately, the security guard is still standing on the invisible forbidden zone line, so we can't get any closer. Finally, hugs are in order and I loudly explain to my parents the incompentency of the airport's flight screen monitors and the incident with the credit card, hoping the guard heard every word. (Hey, blame the preggy hormones. I'm feisty, so sue me!) =)
The trio of men find their loved ones. The IPod woman not named Paige reunites with her husband (who shared a very touching moment of reunion, actually. I teared up!) and they walk off with hands in each other's back pockets. Awww.
I look for the military guy, wondering who his woman was. He's gone. Vanished. Poof. I decide he must be really good at the military and wish him well.
After more hugs and catch-up convo, we head down the luggage carosaul, where we snag the suitcases and head out the front doors. I roll the smallest suitcase (bonus of being pregnant! heh heh) Our parents are home. Safe, sound, and with souvenoirs. I'm so relieved, so grateful, so happy, so--I suddenly remember there is one very crucial thing we forgot to mention. "Uh, Daddy - we're going to need cash for the parking tickets." =)