I march to the ticket counter with my bags in tow, slightly conflicted. I had enjoyed my week in Montréal, and I secretly wished I could vacation there for another week, or maybe a month – heck, I fantasized about moving there. Yet my heart, rather those who fill my heart with great joy, are waiting for me in San Diego. Yes, my son and two daughters were eager for my return. How do I know? Simple: The increased number of texts and phone calls. Oh, and the following phrase typed or recited with each call or text: “When are you coming home?”
Images of their faces and remembrance of fun times we’ve had together danced through my head as I placed my bag, heavy with souvenirs for my family, on the scale where it is weighed, tagged, and then disappeared. I don’t give it a second thought. I have faith that it will be at the correct airport at the correct time.
I go through the motions every traveler must when flying. Shortly before boarding the plane, the announcement that we must forfeit our carry-on bags, as the flight was overbooked, squawked over the loudspeakers. Whatever, I think as I let the attendant tag my bag and whisk it behind the counter. I still have my shoulder bag with all the necessary accoutrements for air travel:
- Ear buds
- Hazelnut butter sammy on sprouted grain bread (seriously yummy!)
- Knitting (which I totally ignored because I made a stupid mistake and I don’t know how to fix it. Humph!)
- Smart phone
- Trail mix
You know, the essentials.
I board the plane and settle into my seat. The first segment, from Montréal to Toronto, was short, however, the flight was about 10 minutes late landing. No big deal, flights are frequently late. The customs gig was a bit confusing. My bag checked at the gate was on the conveyor belt, but my bag checked at the ticket counter wasn’t. It took me a while to realize that the ticket-checked bag would be waiting for me upstairs, in US customs. Well, that’s different, as before my bag was waiting for me to take it to Canadian customs. No worries. I followed the signs to asile 7. I found customs and waited there for my name to appear on the marquee. It never showed up. I stuff down my panic, as it was moments away from the time to begin boarding my San Diego flight.
I explained my plight to a staff member, who directed me to the ticket counter. Adam, the guy at the ticket counter, did everything he possibly could aside from flagging down the plane I was supposed to be on and carrying me on board. Alas, I missed my flight. There were several moments there when I entertained the idea of bursting into tears. A good cry is cleansing, n’est pas? I didn’t, yay, me! Adam worked his magic, to include hunting down my bag, arranging for a complementary hotel room, and making sure I understood all the special instructions he gave me.
I thanked Adam for delaying his dinner break, and for making sure to at least book me on a flight that got me to the West coast – specifically, San Francisco. Yes, it arrived at around midnight and yes, I couldn’t catch a flight to first LA and then to San Diego until after 6 am the next morning, yet just knowing that I was traveling in the direction toward my ultimate destination made me feel better. The fact that this flight, too, was over booked, and that they ran out of meals before getting to me, didn’t faze me. After all, I had brought sustenance with me. I was good to go.
I made it to San Francisco, where the airline couldn’t locate my bag, find a hotel in which I could spend the night, or locate the flight Adam had booked me on (it was cancelled, go figure). However, they did give me a $15 meal voucher. I know, I know, I might have pitched a fit, but how could I, when several of the airline personnel worked diligently to solve all my travel problems? Plus, they were nice, and laughed at my silly jokes.
While there are several eating establishments to choose from, they were all closed. Except for Subway, my least favorite, yet only choice. Truth be told, food at an airport Subways in the middle of the night when you’re pretty darn hungry is this side of outstanding. After eating, I found a place to curl up on the floor and catch a few zzz’s. There are two important things to know about sleeping on the floor at an airport: It’s cold and hard. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that I napped, because when I awoke, it was closer to check-in time.
After boarding the plane to LA and situating myself in my chair, I promptly fell asleep. I awoke upon touch down, no matter how skilled the pilot, there’s that jarring thud when the wheels hit the pavement, and asked my fellow passenger if I had snored. He claimed that I didn’t, bless him. I had visions of myself sawing wood, and drooling out of the corner of my mouth. Glad to know that didn’t happen.
I was happy to be in an airport where the eating establishments were open. I had enough time to score a latte and something that passed for breakfast before boarding the plane to my final destination. Prop plains are small, but the personality of our flight attendant was enormous. She was a riot and I had a good time bantering with her.
I saw my hubby and my youngest daughter (she’s so cute!) waiting for me at the baggage carousel. I swept my daughter into a ginormous hug and smothered her with kisses. She was a good sport about letting me maul her for a whole 22 seconds before pushing me away. Okay, okay, I’ll behave. (At least she held my hand.) The good news is that I arrived in one piece with my sanity (mostly) intact. The bad news is, my bag didn’t. We made a lost bag claim, and then my entourage took me home.
It took a couple of days, but my bag did arrive, and I was able to (finally) bestow upon my family members their gifts from abroad.
Next time I go somewhere, I’m going to present proper offerings to the gods of travel. You know, just to hedge my bets.