This past week was a very stressful one for me. First, I needed to wrap up the third book in my Brides of Waterloo Trilogy. But I was also flying out to Atlanta on Friday morning. I work really well under a deadline, so I set myself a finishing date of Thursday at 4:00pm. I made my deadline, which meant that I wrote 15,000 words in two days. Which explains why I arrived at DFW airport the next day looking like I had been shot from a cannon.
Here’s the thing about flying. I hate it, but I view it as a necessary evil. I think of it like my yearly OB-GYN appointment—something essential but to be dreaded at all costs. The only way I can make it manageable is to arrive EARLY so I have plenty of time to be herded through security, find my gate, and then sit there for an hour staring at CNN while waiting for my plane.
DFW is, generally speaking, more efficient than a lot of airports when it comes to security—there’s not one big human funnel, like at LAX, but several small security checkpoints. Even so, when I arrived, the security checkpoint I went to had a 90 minute wait. OK, fine. I had about 90 minutes before my plane started boarding. I would squeak in just in time. Perspiration began to bead my brow. But then an airport employee walked by, muttering that there was “NO one in line at gate A15” so about 15 of my fellow travelers and myself filed out of line like a military brigade to find the elusive gate A15.
Down the escalator. Outside. Walk along the special construction zone sidewalk. Up the escalator. Inside. WE looked like a bunch of baby chicks dawdling along without a mama duck. And guess what? Gate A15 had a line that was about 45 minutes long.
“Too bad they don’t know about Gate A10,” one employee laughed to another. Our ears pricked up, and all 15 of us went in search of Gate A10.
Did I mention that I was wearing new high-heeled sandals that are adorably cute but were now rubbing huge welts on my big toe? I didn’t? Let me mention it now so you can get a good idea of how I felt at this point, hobbling along in pain.
At the checkpoint of the mysterious gate A10, we all queued up like good little ducklings, and immediately someone had to cut in line. “I’m sorry,” she breathed, toting 6 carry-on bags and a laptop past me, “but my flight leaves at 10:30.” I didn’t mention to her that mine left at 10:15. She was determined that line jumping would be the thing saving her from sprinting through the airport, so more power to you, sister.
Except...she loaded all of her carry-on bags on the belt without pushing them through, waltzing her way through the metal detector without so much as a by-your-leave. So I couldn’t put my stuff down. Is there some FAA regulation that prevents you from giving your fellow traveler’s bags a jolly good shove so you can be on your way too? Was a SWAT team lurking nearby, waiting to take me out if I laid a finger on her stuff?
I took a chance. Poke. The bags didn’t move. She waited patiently on the other side. My other ducklings were beginning to grumble. Poke. No movement. I looked at the security guard for guidance. He stared at his screen. Poke. Finally, he looked up. “Just push it.”
“It’s not mine!” I yelped, and shoved with all my might. Then I loaded my single backpack and those dratted sandals on the conveyor belt, but Miss “My Fifteen Minutes Are More Precious Than Yours” was still clogging up the qeue on the other end, her half-dozen traveling bags, shoes, laptop, travel pillow, and heaven knows what else still piled up.
I walked to my gate, blister-inducing sandals in hand, and longed for the days of luxury travel. A porter carrying my bags. No security lines. Large, roomy seats. A hot towel. A free soda and something to nibble. Instead, I was wedged between two 250 pound men for the duration of my flight, my arms crossed at my elbows so I wouldn’t rest against either of them. I couldn’t reach my wallet, so I went without food or water for the whole flight.
I hate to fly, and it shows. If you could change one thing about air travel, what would it be? I fly home today, and this time I selected my seat--a window one. What else should I do to make it bearable?