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Jun 27, 2010

When Two Hours Equals Twelve Hours

From Brent
  • (UPDATE (added after the first couple of comments): Abby came home from the hospital late last night. Her fever has been below 101 today so far. She is pretty weak and tired. Doesn't feel very good. Michelle is writing an update for later but I'll go ahead and post this short version now for obvious reasons.)
For me, traveling is usually just a varying degree of drudgery. I try to "will power" my attitude into joy when I travel but my natural tendency is to just hate it. Especially flying.

All the "hurry up and wait" is such a waste of time. I'm worn out by the time I get anywhere and it seems like a simple two hour flight more often than not ends up being an all day affair now with dinky little crowded planes and maddeningly STUPID security procedures that have them frisking 8 year old boys and old women all in the name of political correctness. My Friday trip home from Indy almost reached the status of comical. I did get one good photo though (below). Here's the story:

As is my habit, I got the airport a couple of hours early. The only thing worse than having to "wait" at the airport, is getting there without enough margin and finding yourself stuck in security or running through terminals. So I always get there early.

My original flight from Indianapolis to Dallas (about 2.5 hours, then a connection to OKC) had a reserved MIDDLE seat. Misery. I was told that some seats were held and released on the day of the flight (why? anyone know?) so if I got there early I could change seats. I did. And I did. All was well with a great seat up front in the aisle...

...until a rather large and abundant lady arrived to get the middle seat next to me. She was kind, even kind of apologetic but her THREE bags and oxygen machine would need a lot more than a kind disposition to overcome the subsequent 2 hours of fidgeting, shifting and ever increasing spreading out. She took up her seat and much of mine and the guy on the other side. Both he and I were very polite but obviously uncomfortable in the already inhumanely small airline seats.

I'm not exactly a runt and I found myself trying futilely to squeeze myself over into three quarters of the torturous accommodation, much of my own abundance sticking out into the aisle. Of course you fliers all know what that means. Every passing elbow, bag and beverage cart found its way into my ribs, shoulder or arm. Another lady, who was not so polite, needed to "walk" up and down the aisle most of the flight (back problems or something) and she made ZERO attempt not to rather rudely clip me every time she walked by. I think she was saying "get out of the aisle if you don't want me to run into you" because she didn't slow down, turn sideways or otherwise make any attempt to miss me. She did this four or five times without apology.

By the time that flight leg was over, I had a headache, backache and not even one last nerve for anyone to get on. The fun was just beginning...

The Captain informed us our flight plan was going to cause a 10 minute late arrival to Dallas. Lucky me. FYI, that flight plan took us directly over my house south of Oklahoma City. So I would fly over my house and go 200 miles south, then board a plane and fly BACK over my house an hour north (driving time) to the OKC airport. I would see my house TWICE before finally getting to drive an hour to get there. I would have JUMPED on the first fly-by but they wouldn’t let me. As it turned out, I would see my house 4 different times before the end of the day but I’m getting ahead of myself…

They had scheduled my connection with only a :20 minute layover. Ever been to DFW? Unless you get lucky with your gate location (almost never), you aren’t making any connection in 10 minutes. The stewardess (yes, I’m old and politically incorrect… I still say STEWARDESS) announced the gate locations and OKC was only 3 stops down from our arrival! Miracles DO still happen… 9 out of 10 times I come in at a gate geographically as far away from my connection as possible.

Only three doors away, no problem. You don’t think it was that easy do you? Nope.

We landed, and promptly STOPPED about 6,000,000 yards from the terminal. It’s a good thing Texas is big because the runways at DFW take up the space of a small country. We sat there for several minutes, each tick of the clock diminishing any chance I would have to make the next connection. Finally we start rolling… and rolling… and rolling… and rolling… and rolling… about :35 minutes to get to our terminal. I pushed, bullied and begged my way up a few seats hoping to get off quickly only to find myself stuck behind a kindly old gentlemen who evidently was stone deaf. He took his SWEET time getting off the plane and of course walked right up the middle of the jet way at .0000001 MPH, leaving no room to get around him nor hearing my pleas to get by. Eventually, I had to just wrestle by and smile apologetically indicating I was in a hurry.

I ran down three gates and another miracle happened… they were still boarding. Praise the Lord, the :15 minutes “late” would not cost me several hours of waiting in the airport. After all, the DFW to OKC flight was only thirty minutes. Smooth sailing. Blue skies. End of story? You wish. (Seriously, you might be wishing this story would end)

The flight from Dallas to OKC was pretty uneventful despite a boiling thunderstorm off our port side (the photo is still below). We arrived, I got my bags and I made it quickly to the parking garage relieved that I would finally be home following a comfortable :40 minute drive south of the city to our house; if not for the fact that…

… the battery in my van was stone dead. Dead, dead, dead. So here I am in a parking garage, dragging my bags, wondering who in the world I would call and seriously inconvenience to come help me. I had jumper cables in the back so I thought I would put the van in neutral, roll it out and wait for someone to drive by. This was long term parking, so it wasn’t like people were coming and going constantly. To make matters worse, I quickly realized I couldn’t back my car out because the guy next to my passenger side had parked about 6 inches from my car. Even though I could get the car in neutral, the steering wheel was locked and I couldn’t turn it enough to avoid hitting the car next to me.

What to do, what to do… I threw my bags in the van and started walking back to the terminal. Another miracle: I saw a guy walking across the lot who appeared to be some sort of airport employee. I approached him and sure enough, he attended the parking garage and had a portable battery charger. Five minutes later, I was on my way… sort of (I just checked; the photo is still down there at the bottom).

I get to the parking exit and they’ve got all but two lanes closed. The lane that took credit cards had about 15 people in line. It took another 10 minutes to pay, and THEN I was finally on my way home. Ahhh… I couldn’t wait to get there and collapse on my own pillow. Michelle and the kids were at a birthday party and wouldn’t be home for several hours. Like a cow headed to the barn, I had tunnel vision for nothing but hitting the sack when I walked in the door.

And I did. Bags not even unzipped, I was on my mattress ten seconds after walking through the door. That lasted about 10 seconds; just long enough for my eyes to close and the phone to ring. Abby’s fever was up again and I needed to go BACK TO OKC (another 40 minute drive even if you have a photo at the end of your blog post, which I do) to pick up Hannah and SpideyLandis while Michelle stayed in the E.R. with Abby.

Off I went to get the kids, stayed at the hospital for about an hour then came back home to put everyone to bed. The End. Really. By that time I was as tired as you are having to read about it (but hopefully not too tired to look at my photo which, by the way, is at the end of this post which you've probably figured out by now).

That was my “two hour flight” that ended up being 12 hours of frustrating fun. But… I did get some cool shots of a thunderstorm exploding outside my airplane window north of Dallas. I only had my AWFUL iPhone camera with me. Even a good camera wouldn’t do justice to the power and majesty of this brewing storm, but here’s what I got for whatever it’s worth.

I'm like a little kid when it comes to "cloud" pics. I think they are so beautiful....

This thermal draft was just exploding. A classic thunderhead full of power and beauty.


Mama D.'s Dozen said...

I can so totally picture that set of travel circumstances. Oh my! What a day!

However ... you forgot to give us an update on Abby. Is she still in the hospital? How's the fever?

Great pic ... by the way.

:) :) :)

Anonymous said...

Quickly scrolled down through the multiple "my flight was such a hassle" paragraphs looking for an update on Abby's incredibly high fever. Nothing.

Sewconsult said...

While I thoroughly enjoyed reading your travel experience, I was so disappointed to get to the end & see no update on Abby. HOW IS SHE? I have prayed many times over the past hours since I read the 107 fever post. I am glad that you are home to give Michelle the support that she needs. Having had a dad & then a hubby whose jobs required travel, I know the feeling when the door opens & he walks through it.
Hoping Abby is so much better today.
Beckie in Brentwood, TN

Debbie said...

Mama, Anon., and Sewconsult, Brent did give an update about Abby at the beginning of his story. It was very brief, but an update nonetheless and he said Michelle was working on an update for later.

Brent, I can totally relate to your plight and picture it in my mind's the old people say. BTW, I too say stewardess.

Love and hugs,

Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

As my parents would say after that kind of day OYE! Praise God you are home safe and sound!

The photo is amazing! We are praying for Abby!

Love and blessings,
Who also hates traveling!

Anonymous said...

The update wasn't there originally, but that's OK - we'll just chalk it up to extreme fatigue and stress! Hope your upcoming week is uneventful and restful! Still praying!!

Kelli said...

"Surely you can't be serious!"

"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

That is all. :) ya Mr. B and glad that Abby is doing a little better. Praying for her every day. Hang in there!

Sweet Joni said...

What an adventure you took... wow! That's dedication to go through that to support your lovely family!!! After all that I think I MAY have said, "Keep the kids with you Good Night" Ha j/k Thankful you made it home last night though!

And to those that ONLY think of Abby & not the persons who WORK to bring her good health well, I pray for you!

Sorry Abby dear but I know you LOVE & CARE about "mommy & daddy" too :)

I'm praying for you all to recieve the strength & energy to get through this tough time!!! And for a day soon to be able to relax!

Love & Hugs,
p.s. Great photo shot!!!

Nancye said...

Oh my! What a day! I am sorry your day was a million years long! I enjoyed reading your post and I thoroughly enjoy your sarcastic sense of humor. A man after my own heart!

You and your family are still in my prayers.

Davis Family

LaVon Baker said...

I share your entrigue intrigue for clouds. And you are going to lose your photographer of the year award if you don't start taking your camera with you! :-)
Praying for Abby and have my blog readers and FB friends all praying for her.

Aspiemom said...

My friend died this morning and I was having a sad day, but reading your post made me smile. Glad to see you still have your sense of humor!

elteescat said...

I think the "lady" with the possible back problems was telling you to get out of the isle, but OBVIOUSLY didn't have the sense to see that you couldn't!! Some people need to repeat elementary school! As for the dead battery in the parking garage, I don't think I could have handled it in such a rational manner as you did! I would have frantically ran to and fro looking for help and would have missed the employee with the battery charger because I would alrady have run past him!! And I would have gone BONKERS flying over my house 3 times!! I would have tried to jump out of the plane too!! God never gives us more to bear than we can handle and you are obviously made of tougher stuff than me!!! I'm glad Abby's fever is down and I hope she gets well soon!! A kid shouldn't have to suffer like that. I met a family at the WIC office whose baby was BORN with cancer!!! I'm so thankful that my own daughter is whole and sound! Your blog makes me appreciate what I have in my daughter so much more! Keep the faith and keep up the good works!

Marie said...

I'm exhausted just reading that! Glad it's over and you made it home ok. As for anonymous, you're just plain rude.

Penny said...

Hate that your trip was so stressful, but love the picture. It looks like an open door into Heaven. :)