“You know the flight is delayed two hours, right?” The agent looked over the counter at us, baby in the Bjorn, toddler in the stroller, three red suitcases piled up next to us, computer bag perched on my shoulder under my purse, carry-on bag strapped across M’s chest. We looked back at him blankly. We live all of five minutes away. It took us longer to get to the right terminal than it did to get to the actual airport. We spent all day working and all evening packing. I printed out the boarding passes at work. We knew that security was bound to be bad, so we gave ourselves plenty of leeway. We thought of every contingency, but it never occurred to us to check the flight status on line. Total rookie move.
“Whatever. We can’t go home now. Let’s just go to the gate and watch Elmo or something on the computer.” The thought of calling our friend back, loading everyone back into the car, and starting all over again in two hours is more stressful than just sitting at the gate waiting for the plane.
Of course we whizzed through security in minutes, giving us plenty of time to become intimately acquainted with gate C-4. It only took another five minutes to discover that the new hard-drive doesn’t have any of the drivers necessary to play movies, and that the portable DVD rental stand had just closed for the night.
Three hours later, after we rolled around on the floor, perused the newsstand at length, waited in line at Noa’s Bagels for the last bagel, tried unsuccessfully to get C to take a nap, fed Little L four or five times, eaten a banana and industrial quantities of animal crackers, sung Christmas carols, made friends with other stranded travelers, gotten the gate check tag for the stroller, put C into her pajamas, changed multiple diapers, and stared aimlessly at the wall for long stretches of time, finally the plane was announced. It was 11:30 p.m., we hadn’t left yet, but we were already exhausted.
We hoisted ourselves off the chairs, and gathered our scattered belongings. I loaded Little L into the Bjorn, C into the stroller, reclaimed the strewn snacks and at long last we were ready to get onto the plane.
“Calling all first class passengers and families with small children.” The call came over the loud speaker and we turned to move towards the gate. Little L looked up at me, smiled, grunted, and, with perfect comedic timing, pooped. Loudly.
We moved our mess onto the plane, convinced the person on the end of my row to switch seats with M, installed C’s car seat, got a band-aid for the wrist injured during the installation, changed Little L’s diaper on my lap, and settled in for the flight. Finally we were off.
In the sky, just as we all started to doze off, the loudspeaker blared “Sorry to wake everyone, but is there a medical professional on the plane?” Four people jumped out of their seats and ran to the back of the plane.
An hour later the loudspeaker jared us awake again “Due to a medical emergency we are being forced to land in Denver.” Collective groans filled the plane. C’s eyes popped open. And all of a sudden NY seemed very, very far away.
We finally arrived. At 11:30 instead of 6:29. The car service picked us up and dropped us off without further drama. The family was waiting for us, Dunkin’ Donuts in one hand, fresh bagels in the other. And instantly all the travelhassle was forgotten and Christmas began.
*My sister in law coined the phrase “travelhassle” a while back. Simply put it’s the hassle that comes with the joy of traveling.