Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Day at the Airport

Last Tuesday was one of those days. I had to drive to Logan airport in Boston to pick Kelsey up. Kelsey had a long weekend with Monday and Tuesday off school so she took the time to fly and visit her father in South Carolina. The airport in Providence or Hartford is much more convenient but with this being a popular week for winter break, the airlines jacked their prices up obscenely. Trans Air in Boston seemed the most reasonable way to go. When I had dropped Kelsey off the Friday before, I'd underestimated how long and difficult it would be to decipher the parking garage system at Logan and we were cut short on time. So I wanted to allow plenty of time to get there, park and be there waiting for my daughter who was flying for the first time by herself, too old now to be considered an unaccompanied minor and escorted by the airline through her connecting flight in Baltimore. Kelsey has flown many times with her brother and a few times as an official unaccompanied minor so she's not a novice, but she was a nervous 14-year-old.

After I'd been on the road about 20 minutes, I realized I'd forgotten my cell phone at home. I debated going back to get it, uneasy about being two hours away from home with no easy way to communicate. I decided against returning because I didn't want to risk being late to Boston. It was snowing that day with 6-8 inches expected in Boston. However, Kelsey's flight left Charlotte on time and the website showed all flights going as planned. You can see what's coming, right? Delay after delay. I was finally told her flight was circling over Logan, waiting for clearance to land. Then her flight was deleted off the monitor and someone waiting in the baggage claim area with me said they'd heard Flight 324 was cancelled. Trying to control my panic, I went upstairs to the Air Tran ticket counter to ask. Yes, the flight was cancelled and returned to Baltimore because after an hour or more of circling Logan Airport, the snow made it unsafe for any planes to land. Here I was with no cell phone and my 14-year-old daughter is back in Baltimore with no clear idea of when and if she was going to make it back to Boston. My chest tightened, my breathing became rapid and I realized I was going to hyperventilate, have an anxiety attack or burst into tears if I didn't calm down. Doing all three seemed very likely at times, but I somehow got control of myself.
The next several hours could have been a nightmare and many would assume it was. However, once I called Jay and had him relay information between us, I accepted that although I didn't have the convenience of a cell phone, I would make the best of the situation. If it looked like Kelsey would be stuck in Baltimore, she does have an aunt living in the area who could get her. Jay spent the better part of his afternoon and evening talking back and forth to Kelsey.
Of course, there were many other people in the same boat I was in at the airport. We formed a relationship of sorts. One woman named Nancy overheard me talking to an airport employee about my plight. She let me use her cell phone, even left me in baggage claim with her phone while she went to use the restroom. Nancy was trying to get to Baltimore. She offered to take Kelsey in at her hotel in Baltimore if they were both stranded there for the night, promising that she wasn't a weirdo. Fortunately we didn't have to take her up on her offer plus we did have Aunt Ann Marie as a backup. Nancy is one of those people who restores your faith in human kindness with her caring and generosity.
While studying the monitor in the Air Trans terminal, I struck up a conversation with two men. Judging by his accent, he was a Boston native. He was there to meet his wife and kids returning from Florida. He had brought their new Boston (what else?) Terrier puppy with him. The other man admitted that although his girlfriend had been lobbying for a dog, he wasn't crazy about the idea. That was before he met Sadie, the puppy. Within minutes the non-dog man was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the flight monitors with Sadie in his lap. She licked his fingers for a while then fell asleep on her new fan.
I also met a man from Connecticut waiting for his fiancé's flight to arrive from Ohio.
"What part of Connecticut?"
"Ledyard." I expected him to either not know where Ledyard was or to connect it with the casinos, Ledyard's claim to fame.
"You're kidding! I live in Ledyard." He later introduced me to his fiancé who arrived while I was still waiting for Kelsey's flight. They're getting married this weekend.
The temporary friendships formed were a good distraction for me. I also purchased a paperback book called Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese which is very intriguing so far. This was another plus to my predicament; I never take the time to read novels at home. I even found $4 on the floor. The cynical me wished it was larger bills rather than singles because the parking garage was surely going to cost a wee bit more than $4 by the time I left. I wandered around waiting for more money to appear on the floor.
I spent more than $4 in change making calls from the pay phone, giving out my pay phone number so Jay and Kelsey could call me back rather than get cut off after 4 minutes. I saw no need to splurge on a pre-paid phone card with more minutes than I'd ever use. After all, Kelsey was going to land in the next hour, right? How many times did that schedule change?
As I was once again checking the status of Kelsey's flight at the Air Tran counter, a man came up who was obviously irritated with the whole situation. I was reassured that this time Kelsey's flight was going to land in Boston, due at 11:58 pm. I remarked rather nonchalantly that if in fact she did land then, I would've been waiting at the airport for eleven hours. Should we go for twelve? The other man looked at me in disbelief and visibly relaxed, "Well, you've got me beat," he said.
Kelsey's plane finally landed around midnight and as a bonus, her luggage made it in good time also. I was so hyped up on ice coffee and No Doz that I had no issues with staying awake on the drive home, occupying my mind by talking to Kelsey then replaying the day's events after she went to sleep. Kelsey has sworn off ever flying again, declaring it to be the worst day of her life. I'm relieved to finally get my baby back and realized that although the day was less than ideal, it wasn't hell for me. It was a glass half-full/half-empty kind of day. Speaking of which, another incident happened on the drive home soon after Kelsey fell asleep. I took a swig of water from my water bottle and choked. I spewed the water on my lap and had a major coughing fit, hard enough that it sounded like I was vomiting and woke Kelsey up. Hey, at least the fleece gloves I had sitting in my lap soaked up most of the water. It could've been worse, right?


  1. Ah, finally the details...things can always be worse. You're allergic to water now? Guess it will have to be white wine from now on. We have some Cloudy Bay if you want to visit!

  2. No Ding Dong, I'm not allergic to water! It just went down the wrong pipe. But I'll take you up on the Cloudy Bay anytime.