In the event of a landing over water…at least you’ll finally get a bath

It was midnight, and I had 8 hours to kill. The lightning and thunder continued outside as I slumped in the Washington airport lounge. I’d missed my connecting flight and was now going to bed down in public. I needed to be inconspicuous enough to grab some sleep but obvious enough to be noticed if someone decided to kill me.

I’d calculated if I left the airport to grab a hotel, by the time I’d checked in, then cleared international customs to get back for boarding my morning flight, I’d only have 4 hours to sleep. Plus, I’d left my brush at home, and my tangled wet hair already looked like I’d slept in a gopher hole. Airports are busy places; everyone around me had their own stories, the violent storm having messed up everybody’s plans.

Because I watch too much TV, I carefully put my passport in one pocket, my wallet in another. I was wearing a pair of desert camo pants, not remotely flattering but in hindsight a brilliant purchase. Into another pocket went my phone. Cash in another. I ran out of valuable things before I ran out of pockets.

I carefully jammed my purse under the row of seats I’d staked out, and pushed my carryon against it. I put my iPad under the sweatpants I was using as a pillow. Any attempt to rob me would be thwarted. Like a wounded animal on a savannah, I peered around at the danger surrounding me. A young mother had two kids sleeping with their heads in her lap. A guy was snoring away under a baseball cap, a young businesswoman was pecking away on her laptop, and an extended family was trying to make their grandfather comfortable. Okay, not exactly a code red situation.

I lay facing the room, trying to figure out when I’d last eaten. The airport kiosks were closed, and didn’t open until 5am. I set my alarm for 5. My alarm. I crack myself up. Not keen to sleep in front of strangers, I put a t-shirt over my head. Then I turned to face the wall, not caring that my camo butt was facing out. I debated putting in earbuds to block out the noise with music, but then I realized I wouldn’t hear someone sneaking up to strangle me. I wondered if I had to pee, which of course made me have to pee. I put all my stuff back together to go 10 metres to the washroom; anything you leave unattended gets blown up, not stolen.

I never did sleep. At 8 am, I boarded a flight for home, bleary eyed and mussed up. I sat down, looked at my seatmate and said, “does this plane smell like feet?” He replied that it did, and promptly went to sleep. It was worse than feet; it was feet with a side of diaper. Thankfully a woman doused in some hideous floral scent sat down in the row ahead. The kid behind me started kicking my seat; a kid 4 rows back started hollering.

Our flight attendant jolted us awake turning on the mic. An apparent graduate of the Chirpy School of Supreme Irritation, her voice slid up and down two octaves with each word. People don’t talk this way; I wanted to punch her. I was sitting at an emergency exit and she asked if I could yank the door off if we crashed.

I told her not to worry; I’d be the first one off the plane.

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11 responses to In the event of a landing over water…at least you’ll finally get a bath

  1. Beth says:

    When I was in the Air Force, now the Royal Canadian Air Force, I had to go from Cold Lake Alberta to Quebec City to attend a laser demonstration being put on by some British outfit. Why they sent me, I have no idea. The unit I was working with was full of engineers and test pilots, while I have no clue how to use a calculator. But, I was full of enthusiasm. I had never been to Quebec City and we were all staying in a beautiful hotel right down town. I must mention I was flying out on a Sunday, at a time when there was no Sunday shopping. Somewhere during my connection Toronto, my luggage was lost. The Air Canada folks in Quebec City assured me there were many more flights coming in from Toronto and they would deliver my luggage as soon as it came. So I proweled around the city, taking in all the sites. Hey this was cool, all on the government dime. I checked back at the hotel, no luggage. Air Canada again assured me not to worry. I went out for dinner and returned to no luggage and Air Canada assuring me I would soon have my luggage. The fact that they could not even tell me exactly what flight it would be on had me rather worried. I went to bed after I knew the last flight was in and no luggage had arrived. At this point all I had were the clothes on my back, no clean clothes, no makeup and none of the styling product I use religiously to tame my rather curly hair. Did I mention no makeup???? (I know you gals are all sympathizing at this point) I got up the next morning and joined the international group that was waiting in the front lobby of the hotel for the bus to take us to the base, as I was instructed in the package left for me at the desk upon checkin. Needless to say, all the military members were sharp in their unfirms while I was in my jeans and a shirt. A tour bus arrived and began to load a group of high school students obviously in town for a tour. A teacher came up to me and told me it was time to get on the bus, then realized I was not one of hers. I will mention that I was routinely asked for ID well into my late 20’s. A Colonel looked at me rather curiously and asked if I was part of the DND group. I explained who I was and about the lost luggage, no uniform, etc. As the group assembled for the briefing and demonstration, a lot of people were giving me the look like “who is the youngster tagging along”. I tried to politely explain who I was and why I looked like I should be at a bring your daughter/son to work day instead of representing the Air Force’s rather elite test pilots and engineers. At the end of the day, there was a big mess dinner at the historic fort, which sadly burned down a few years ago. I explained I still had no luggage, I did not have enough time to go to the local stores to buy something appropriate and mess rules are very rigid as far as dress codes go – you can’t wear jeans in there, let alone to a formal dinner. I was so angry with Air Canda at this point, the humiliation and lost chance at the rare mess dinnerr is such an illustrious locale. I fell sleep only to be woken up early in the morning by pounding on my door. It was the luggage delivery service happily announcing they had my suitcase with them. I took a shower, got on some clean clothes for the first time in two days and, of course, did my usual morning beauty routine. I then had to call a cab to take me to my early morning flight back to Alberta.

  2. Lorraine Lorraine says:

    I am finally better, mostly. But that was a bad week.

    No makeup, Beth?! I had all my stuff, but I was too tired to care. But yeah, the same clothes for a couple of days gets a little…ick.

  3. Sandy says:

    My luggage got lost on my way to Mexico. I had nothing with me, was able to find a shop to get a bathing suit and a dress. Made friends with some other girls by the pool who loaned me some clothes (my travelling companion was about four sizes smaller than me so she was no help at all) Took four days before I got my own suitcase.
    Spent every night washing out my gitch in the sink and hanging it to dry for the next day.
    I never, ever travel without a change of clothes in my carry on after that.

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better.
    Still got that red beauty in the driveway??

  4. David Taylor says:

    I do not believe I have ever seen a washed-out gitch (or a soiled one for that matter) hanging out to dry in all my travels… Ever…

  5. Sandy says:

    It wasn’t hung out in public!

  6. nursedude says:

    I was on a business trip to Boston in late Aug 2001. Major thunderstorms hit the area and all flights out of Logan were delayed/cancelled.

    The terminal was under renovation and the a/c was on the fritz.

    The lineup to the Air Canada counter was blocks long and we stood there for hours while word filtered out that all flights were being cancelled and we were going to have to spend the night at Logan. In a heat wave. With no a/c.

    I was more than ready to strangle my co-worker and take my chances before a jury of my peers when an Aussie behind me traveling on business asked me if I wanted “a minty”. My co-worker, to this day, has no idea that her life was saved by a piece of candy from down under.

    Finally got to the counter and a very bored/hostile person demanded our tickets. She entered them into the computer and said” That’s weird. You have guaranteed seats on the last flight out”. “If you hurry you can still make it.”

    Ran up the stairs/escalator dragging my co-worker and luggage behind me. Yelling “make a hole” and “coming through”. I think I may even have shoved a nun.

    I ran right by security without so much as a search or screening of my baggage. The all stood there and watched as a very large, very sweaty and close to homicidal guy ran by them.

    When 9-11 happened the first thing I said to my wife was that I wondered if the hijackers had departed from Logan. As it turned out some of them had. I will always wonder if they saw my mad dash and breach of security and realized security there was pretty bad.

    I shudder to think what would happen to me now if that happened.

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