Elizabeth Willis Barrett
I think that for every flight taken throughout the whole world there is someone who makes a solemn commitment to never fly again. This last trip did it for me. The going and coming were both filled with frustration. I possibly walk through the door marked “Frustration” more than is needed due to my easily frustrate-ability, but this trip made me walk in and out of it like it was a swinging restaurant door.
The frustration began when we tramped up to the Southwest Airline ticket counter last Thursday morning. We needed to get our boarding passes and check our burgeoning luggage–always with an eye on that fifty-pound-limit scale. As Brad remembered to retrieve his boarding pass, which he doesn’t always do, he held it up and with dismay in his voice groaned, “C45?!” I had forgotten to enter the frantic online race to get an “A” position. I groaned, too. I hate to be one of the last ones on the plane, scrambling for a seat and having to crawl over legs to sit between two unsmiling humans who are obviously upset that their space has been invaded.
Then as we wound and wound and wound our way through the banded barriers and up to the dreaded conveyor belt, I dared to walk past two men who were kneeling, getting stuff out of their carryons. One of the guys said in a very stern, overweight voice, “Lady, we’re all waiting in line!” I mewed a pitiful “Sorry,” as I got back behind them. That reprimand from an unpleasant ugly stranger stayed with me for hours. No, for days. I still feel it.
We had the perfect trip once we got in our rental car. We visited the Seattle Welcome Home facility, watched them throw fish at the Pike’s Place Fish Market, rode the ferry to Vancouver Island, and delighted in the Butchart Gardens. Half of us delighted in the Butchart Gardens. The most important part of the trip was spending a whole day with our son at the Welcome Home facility in Vancouver. Thorough transformation happens there! If you know of a drug addict that needs some changing, we are always eager to talk about Welcome Home.
Back at the airport, the swinging door labeled “Frustration” got back into action. The lines were abominable. They wove in and out without sense. When I finally got close to the human X-ray machine, the lady ahead of me stalled and I was redirected to a pat down employee–female, thank goodness. Did you know that you have to be patted down if you’re wearing a long dress? What is that all about? I had to put one foot forward while said employee annoyingly patted, then the other foot forward while she did the same. I was then told to pivot. Pivot? I obviously pivoted wrong because I had to reposition my feet until she was totally finished with my complete humiliation which was done in front of the world. The world was well represented anyway.
“I’m never flying again,” I said to Brad who waited patiently while I put on my shoes, my necklace, my watch and my sweatshirt and put my “liquid” pouch back in my bag along with my iPad and boarding pass.
We were a little late getting to the gate, but nature was calling. Unfortunately, Seattle has sorely underestimated the number of women who might need to use the bathroom while in its airport and those lines were backed up, too. I waited and hurried and got to the gate to find that the hurry wasn’t necessary. The flight was delayed. Then it was delayed a little longer.
An hour past departure time we were finally on our way to Phoenix. Ah. I even got an aisle seat even though our boarding passes were way into the “B”s. That was thanks to Brad who ended up sitting in the middle of two very kind women. They chatted together the whole time. Brad is an excellent conversationalist. I’m sure the women were much happier with him in their midst than they would have been with me.
I was so glad I had determined to use the bathroom in the airport and was very sorry I didn’t also take the opportunity to use the bathroom in the plane because just before we were to arrive in Phoenix, the pilot made a depressing announcement. A storm was blowing hard in Phoenix and we were being rerouted to Las Vegas. I heard “Las Vegas” past my headset that was playing Katie Couric’s The Best Advice I Ever Got. I thought I had heard wrong or that the pilot was having a little fun with his already anxious passengers. But nope. It was Las Vegas. My eyes glazed over as I saw everyone rush to line up for the plane’s two tiny bathrooms. I didn’t join them but should have.
We were supposed to land in Phoenix at 6:00 p.m. Friends were going to pick us up and take us to an important dinner that started at 7:00. We missed it. Thankfully our friends were made aware of the plane’s delay and they were able to attend the dinner. I was happy for that.
We didn’t get home till 10:45, tired and ruffled. But we did get home. That is always a blessing. I’m glad the pilot didn’t attempt to land the plane in bad weather. I’m glad that the crew was cheerful and helpful. I’m glad that when I finally made it to the plane’s bathroom that it was surprisingly clean and equipped with necessities. I’m glad that our luggage made the flight with us even though we had to wait a very long time for it to appear on the carousel. I’m glad it only took us about eight hours to get from Seattle to Phoenix instead of a driver’s twenty-two hours.
OK, maybe I’ll fly again.